The Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica has been selected to receive a $2 million grant from Blue Shield of California to help the hospital participate more effectively in an accountable care organization (ACO).

Considered a key part of health care reform, ACOs are newly created networks of providers and payers that share responsibility for treating and managing the care of patients.

Saint John’s will use the grant to implement a quality improvement program to achieve clinical integration among participating physicians, increase patient satisfaction, enable timely medical records, and increase use of generic drugs while decreasing readmissions and avoidable days, hospital officials said.

“ACOs offer a new model for affordable, high-quality health care, and this grant from Blue Shield of California will significantly assist us as we develop our own integrated network,” said Lou Lazatin, president and chief executive officer of Saint John’s Health Center.

Saint John’s was one of 18 California hospitals, health systems, clinics and medical groups selected by Blue Shield of California to receive grants totaling nearly $20 million.

“We received nearly 60 grant applications from providers around the state. This demonstrates overwhelming interest among providers in collaborating to reduce costs and enhance the quality of care,” said Paul Markovich, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Blue Shield of California.

“We’re proud to support all of our grantees as they work to materially improve care and succeed under federal health reform.”

The ACO grants are being made as part of Blue Shield’s “2-percent pledge,” a commitment the company made to limit annual net income to 2 percent of revenue and to return the difference collected above that amount to customers and the community.