CHESS Awarded NC Medical Society Foundation Contract to Manage Rural ACOs Across the State

July 20, 2015

CHESS, a health enablement solutions company, and the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation (NCMSF) today announced that CHESS has been selected to provide care transformation and management services for the NCMS Rural Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Initiative, a project designed to develop ACOs in rural communities across North Carolina.

The NCMS Rural ACO Initiative identifies healthcare professionals who serve in rural and other underserved communities throughout the state, and helps them build and actively participate in successful ACOs. The accountable care model, gaining traction on a national scale as result of the Affordable Care Act, focuses on ensuring patients receive high quality, low cost care and rewards providers in the form of shared savings for meeting quality goals and controlling costs. This project will focus on Medicare recipients, and work within the framework of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), which is governed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As part of the three-year engagement outlined in the agreement, CHESS will provide guidance and infrastructure to five separate rural ACOs located throughout the state. Using a “hub and spoke” approach, CHESS will deliver transformative care models that include comprehensive care coordination and medication management, patient engagement services, analytic data reporting and support and extensive provider education. In addition, CHESS will help the participating ACOs develop local leadership, adopt evidence-based best practices, implement standardized policies and protocols and design merit-based shared savings distribution methodologies for ACO participants.

According to Danielle Mahaffey, MD, Chief Medical Officer of CHESS, “We view this as an exciting opportunity to fulfill our corporate mission, which is to empower providers to make the transition to value-based medicine. As importantly, it is a key step to building healthy communities in North Carolina through coordinated and sustainable care. Many people in rural communities often have limited access to high quality, cost effective healthcare services, and the providers that serve these communities are stretched terribly thin. Through this initiative, CHESS and the Medical Society Foundation can be the agents of change that benefit both patients and providers in this new age of healthcare.”

Adds Melanie Phelps, Associate Executive Director, NCMSF & Deputy General Counsel of the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, “We selected CHESS because of its deep and broad experience in value-based health care design and implementation. The knowledge and training expertise CHESS brings in identifying sick and high-risk patients, then implementing strategies such as care management and outreach (e.g., scheduling appropriate screenings to catch disease early when it’s more treatable) will result in a healthier patient population. Reducing hospital admissions and unnecessary tests will be some areas where we expect to generate savings.”  

Phelps continues, “We are confident that CHESS is the best equipped organization to ensure the success of this initiative. Its work at Cornerstone and with other groups in the state, along with its commitment to patient-centered care delivery, makes it an ideal partner for us and the ACOs it will serve under this agreement.”

CHESS is a spinoff of Cornerstone Healthcare, which was ranked as one of the top 25 ACOs in the country in 2014 for quality.  CHESS has successfully administered MSSP ACOs since 2012, and currently manages a large ACO which includes an academic medical center, a regional hospital, a community hospital-owned physician group and a large multi-specialty medical practice. Collectively these organizations serve more than 30,000 Medicare patients in central and western North Carolina. Through projects like large ACO administration and now the rural health ACO initiative, CHESS continues to expand its influence in the region as a driver of accountable care.  


The North Carolina Medical Society Foundation (NCMSF) is the philanthropic arm of the North Carolina Medical Society. The mission of the NCMSF is to improve access to quality health care for all North Carolinians. To accomplish this, NCMSF focuses on recruitment and retention of health care practitioners to provide needed health care services to underserved populations, and physician leadership development. Through our programs, NCMSF supports efforts that: (1) improve the health of specific populations; (2) enhance the patient experience of care; and (3) reduce health care costs. For more information, visit