How the Affordable Care Act Will Affect Healthcare Administrators

An Increase in Patients

Since the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court, and with the deadline by which people need to be enrolled fast approaching, some are wondering just how this new legislation will affect people working in healthcare. Perhaps the most obvious effect of the law, often referred to as "Obamacare," is that it will lead to an influx of patients in hospitals and doctors' offices around the country. It is estimated that by 2014, 32 million more Americans will have health coverage – about 15 of which will be covered under the individual mandate, and the rest of which will be included in the Medicaid expansion. There's already a shortage of physicians, and administrators will need to get creative to think of ways to close the gap and hire enough doctors, nurses, and other staff to account for the increased patient load. The shortage is expected to reach 45,000 over the next few years – a shortage that will be worse in rural areas that are already suffering. So what should administrators do?

A Shift in Hiring

The solution is a little bit more complicated than simply filling the empty slots with new employees. To keep costs down and adjust to the new regulations, many administrators are choosing to hire nurses over doctors, including practitioners, specialists, midwives, and anesthetists. Administrators will also have to account for the shift toward preventative and outpatient care by RNs, social workers, medical assistants, and community health workers who can visit patients' homes.

Help for Rural Areas

Aspiring healthcare administrators who don't insist upon living in a big city may want to consider relocating to a rural area. Because there is already such a shortage in these areas, the government (specifically the US Department of Health and Human Services) has begun funding projects to help rural areas and people for much-needed positions. And then there are services like Project ECHO, which connect rural doctors via webcam and conference call to teams of physicians and health services providers in other regions. Healthcare administrators in rural areas will have ample opportunity to increase their services, hire more employees, and help more people.

Winners in Job Growth

With the new law, more money will start flowing to pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and hospitals. Job growth will likely be strongest in the primary and home care fields, so healthcare administrators may have the best prospects for work if they step out of the hospital setting and choose instead to manage offices for internists or general practitioners, or to apply for management positions with home healthcare services. Administrators who have some knowledge of technology will also come out on top. People who help digitize, manage, and secure healthcare systems and medical records repositories will benefit, especially IT companies that can turn healthcare information into actionable data. This might mean that for a portion of healthcare administrators, their work might not even include direct management of doctors or nurses, but rather of employees in the business sector working indirectly with healthcare providers. And in a broader sense, the ACA will support the addition of 245 new community health centers through 2014, all of which will need to be managed by healthcare administrators.


About the Author:
About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.

The Future of Healthcare

There are a number of factors contributing to the changes occurring in healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicare, lack of Medicaid expansion, and hospital debts are just a few. These factors will affect hospital care in the immediate future and not-so-immediate future.

Preventative Care and New Payment Systems

As far as the job market is concerned, there will be a shift in doctors' responsibilities. There will be more of a focus on preventative care and wellness in an attempt to cut costs, as many have realized the need to treat people not when they become ill, but before they're sick. Hospitals may even start giving patients access to health coaches and pharmacists to help them manage their health. This will require additional payment systems to make such activities affordable on a large scale. If implemented, these adjustments will lead to enhanced payments and the ability to employ additional workers in new positions. Payment models will also receive adjustments as they account for the system-to-come that bases payments on total services (such as the entire cost of treating someone with diabetes) rather than an individual service. This will motivate both doctors and administrators to keep prices low.

Shifting Job Responsibilities and a Decrease in Inpatient Care

In addition, more healthcare will be provided by people other than physicians. Because there is such a shortage of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will take on a more central role, and some care will be "outsourced" to schools, clinics, the workplace, and even peoples' homes. This may affect the role of healthcare administrators, as they may have to shift their focus away from hospitals and toward home healthcare services or even work in education. There has already been a decline in the number of hospital admissions, and in the next five years that number is expected to go down by another 3%. Some predict that by 2035 most people will be able to pay for services in advance and receive care in an outpatient setting, with only the sickest being admitted to hospitals. Staff in all settings will also be motivated to keep efficiency and patient satisfaction high (thanks to websites like and take on business savvy (especially in academic medical centers) to keep tabs on supply chain management and other aspects of operational excellence.

Technology for a Virtual World

As one might guess, technology will play a huge role in the future of healthcare. Tools are becoming smaller and more mobile, making the transition away from inpatient care even easier. Engineering and development isn't that far away from creating scanner type tools that can read vitals and monitor treatments in seconds, reminding some of scenes from Star Trek. In the future of healthcare, patients will be immersed in a virtual world that allows all of their physicians to be connected around them and informed of their health, regardless of said patient's location or the time of day. With this increase in virtual medicine, one of the big benefits is that the best doctors can reach broader communities and care for people in rural areas. As far as healthcare administrators go, they're already dealing with the new regulations regarding electronic records for all patients. But in the world of the future, they'll have to coordinate the increased costs of technology, manage doctors operating as mobile units, and keep track of an expanding number of patients receiving diversified care in a bigger region.


About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.


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