For better or worse, the Affordable Care Act has impacted the medical hemisphere in a lot of ways. At six years, we’re finally starting to see the way it’s changing how we interact with patients. Of course, the major way we interact with patients is through care, and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the quality of care they are receiving. Let’s look at a few ways quality of care has improved.
Access to Preventive Care
Before the ACA, many patients passed on many preventive care opportunities strictly based on cost. But the ACA has expanded many preventive care procedures to fit within insurance structures without a copay or coinsurance. This has opened preventive care to hundreds of adults, women, and children to help catch potential health issues early, and generally leave patients healthier.
Patient satisfaction has become increasingly important as patients shop their healthcare around. There is no better way to satisfy a patient by providing them with free (to them) health screening that can catch something potentially harmful in plenty of time to treat it.
More Access to Medical Care
The number of uninsured Americans has decreased significantly since the ACA was instituted. In 2014 alone, the number of uninsured Americans declined by 8.8 million people. That’s a whole new world of people who may have never had health insurance before finally able to receive traditional treatment.
However, it’s important to distinguish that while these numbers are down, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the insurance they have is good. Many of these new plans have very high deductibles, meaning they may still be responsible for a significant amount of self-pay. This means it’s still very important for a hospital’s accounts receivable department to focus on self-pay accounts, and not strictly on insurance receivables.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
One of the programs still being developed is that of Electronic Health Records, or EHRs. This mandate was put forth to help create a more efficient way of sharing patient data among doctors. All too often, doctors rely strictly on their patients for updates on their health because they don’t have access to their current medical records, and this means unnecessary tests and procedures for the patient.
The goal behind EHRs is admirable, but it’s an area where hospitals still need to focus a lot of care. Hackers love accessing patient records for sensitive data, like social security numbers and credit card information. As your hospital utilizes EHRs, make sure you’re putting forth the best defensive efforts to keep that data safe.
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