What is a clinically integrated network (CIN)?

A clinically integrated network (CIN) is a formal group of healthcare providers working together to deliver efficient, affordable, coordinated care to patients. CINs share many similarities with accountable care organizations (ACOs) in that both are characterized by a network of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers voluntarily working together to improve care and lower costs.

Though ACOs and other systems can be described as “clinically integrated” based on things like care coordination and interoperability, the term “clinically integrated network” refers to a distinct legal entity. CINs are the specific organizing structures that providers join when they form an ACO.

There are three different types of clinically integrated networks, including:

  • Joint Venture Physician-Hospital Organizations (PHOs)
  • Health System Subsidiaries, and
  • Independent Practice Associations

Joint venture physician-hospital organization refers to a CIN comprised of physician and hospital partners, while an independent practice association is made up of only physician partners. Health system subsidiaries are CINs operated as part of an integrated delivery network (IDN).

Why are clinically integrated networks important in healthcare?

Clinically integrated networks (CINs) serve an important role in achieving the “triple aim” of healthcare: better patient experience, improved population health, and lower healthcare costs.

Because of their commitment to communication and care coordination, CINs also help to improve documentation, quality performance, and physician accountability. With an increasing number of value-based contracts, these things help to ensure that providers maintain excellent care quality and risk no decrease in payer reimbursements.