Sustainable Competitive Advantage for Accountable Care Organizations

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In the current period of health industry reform, accountable care organizations (ACOs) have emerged as a new model for the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective healthcare. However, few ACOs operate in direct competition with one another, and the accountable care business model has yet to present a means of continually developing new marginal value for patients and network partners. With value-based purchasing and patient consumerism strengthening as market forces, ACOs must build organizational sustainability and competitive advantage to meet the value demands set by customers and competitors.


This essay proposes a strategy, adapted from the disciplines of agile software development and Lean product development, through which ACOs can engage internal and external customers in the development of new products that will provide sustainability and competitive advantage to the organization by decreasing waste in development, promoting specialized knowledge, and closely targeting customer value.

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