The health care field is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States and other countries. The scope of changes suggests a consumer-driven environment and moving away from a provider-driven industry. Changes in technology and communication methods are allowing people to engage directly with their health care provider and not rely solely on the medical provider. We will discuss the modifications taking place in health care, current and potential challenges, and how the health care industry is adjusting to those changes.
Modifications in Health Care
The modifications taking place in health care involve the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and changes in insurance coverages. A report from Mobile Health 2012 from the Pew Internet & American Life Project states that 45 percent of American adults own a smartphone (Khan, 2014). In addition, the report also states that 53% of smartphone owners use their phones to gain access to health care information (Khan, 2014). With this increase in technology, patients do not have to wait for the next appointment for laboratory results, access real-time data, or health information.
They can have access to their medical records anytime they choose, including other methods of communication such as email or social media (Khan, 2014). Through the ACA, patients have choices about choosing health insurance exchanges that benefit their families and themselves, which includes choosing premiums, copays, and deductibles. Individuals have the benefit of choosing cost-effective insurance coverage that is affordable for them which give them direct power and actively engaging in their quality of care.
Current and Potential Challenges in Health Care
The current and potential challenges facing health care comes from the new mandates under the ACA. Health care employees are under tremendous stress with shortages in the workforce, and instability in the industry (Anderson, 2014). The average health professional’s level of stress is causing job dissatisfaction, burnout, and difficulty retaining quality health care providers (Anderson, 2014). Consumers expect to receive quality care with more choices under the ACA and have the freedom to monitor their health care expenses. Although patients can seek additional health care information through technology, it will take a strong workforce to provide optimum patient care to consumers (Anderson, 2014). The challenge to improve the quality of care without a strong, resilient, growing workforce is undeniable. Many health professionals are seeking other career interests because of the effects of ACA.
The mandate that comes under the ACA increases the level of stress on workers, organizations, and the health system is increasing tremendously (Anderson, 2014). The complexity of implementing the rules of the ACA places extreme burden on health providers to fulfill professional obligation, adhere to legal requirements, and still provide quality patient care (Anderson, 2014). Instead of lifting the pressure off of workers it place enormous stress to perform with excellence daily. Another huge challenge in health care is the increase of medical errors because of overworked individuals, which creates fewer optimal outcomes, including patient death and health care disparities (Khan, 2014).
The mandate on medical providers to implement electronic health records is creating workforce stress, increased workloads, and burnout among health providers and professionals (Anderson, 2014). In addition, there will be growth in the workforce because of the increase in the number of patients that will be insured under the ACA. Therefore, this will create overwhelming strain on existing medical workers and their ability to accomplish those goals.
Solutions to Health Care Challenges
The effort to remain competitive in the health care industry requires medical providers, such as physicians, hospitals, physician group practices, and numerous health care companies to integrate and merge businesses (Anderson, 2014). As stated in the article, mergers and acquisitions lower operating costs, but also keep an even distribution of financial safety and increases market share (Anderson, 2014). Consolidations now include many physicians selling their practices to join physician groups and working in hospitals. With these changes taken place, insurers, hospitals, physicians and stakeholders can have an increase in negotiation power (Anderson, 2014).
In 2011, there were consolidations that include 432 mergers involving 832 hospitals (Anderson, 2014). As a result, many hospitals are not independent but are now major health care systems throughout the United States. The implementation of the ACA suggests more individuals by law will have to purchase insurance. The health care system is not prepared to handle the large quantity of cases, which will add significant stress among workers. Health care organizations will need an efficient workforce to accommodate the growing population and give patients the quality of care that they deserve (Anderson, 2014). According to Anderson, “Solutions to the existing problems will require innovation in medical education and training, improved delivery of care, and implementation of policies to retain the existing health care workforce” (Anderson, 2014, p.1).
The shift taking place in health care will continue to change along with the implementations under the ACA and the mandate to obtain insurance coverage. Changing the landscape of health care includes the shift to mobile technology and consumer-driven industry. Consumers are more aware of technology that can assist in gaining access to medical information and are seeking alternatives to insurance coverages and reducing costs. Therefore, they are engaging directly with the medical providers and taking ownership of their health information and status. Health care professionals are seeking less stressful working environments, smaller workloads, and even other career paths. The operating costs of the health care system are astronomical and will continue to increase as health care becomes available to more consumers.
Anderson, A. (2014). The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Health Care Workforce. Re
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