The Affordable Care Act: Trends and Implications in the Allied Health Workforce
RSP Kicks off 2014 Program Series at its February 20th Meeting
Data and preventative care will drive the healthcare workforce demands of the future, a prominent healthcare consultant told members of the Competitive Workforce Alliance Allied Health Regional Skills Partnership at the organization’s first meeting of 2014. “The shift from a focus on episodic care (no on-going relationship between patient and doctor) to a focus on preventative care (relationship-based) is one of three critical changes I see coming,” Phil Geissinger of PG Consulting told the group.
The Affordable Care Act requires hospitals to dramatically reduce the “30 day rate” or the number of people who return for additional treatment within 30 days. This means hospitals must make sure patients have better follow-up care, and patients will need to help manage their own care more. Geissinger predicts that follow-up treatment will be administered through community-based clinics and home health care agencies. “To address the impact of the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina is predicted to need more than 10,000 additional employees by the end of 2017,” Geissinger said. “About half of those jobs will be home health aides and registered nurses, (who can supervise home health and other care).”
Where will the remaining 5,000 jobs be? Geissinger predicts IT and patient access/education. To help patients find their way through this new system, Geissinger predicts a sizeable increase in the number of “Patient Navigators”, or trained personnel that help patients understand the new language of healthcare and get the treatment they need. Geissinger also noted the demand for Physician’s Assistants and Nurse Practitioners is predicted to grow to meet the demand for more community-based care providers.
IT expertise will also be in high demand. “Electronics is changing everything,” he said. From hospitals, to physicians practices, to community health centers, to a patient’s home computer; medical and health records will be electronic, requiring staff trained to enter data, provide security and maintain and update systems. “The needs for increased use of clinical staff and mobile applications are harder to predict,” Geissinger said. “Current demand is likely to continue for the next 3-5 years, as these shifts occur, but that is not certain. Changing technology, changing reimbursement policies, and the changing Act itself are all unknowns still to be determined. The Affordable Care Act is changing weekly, sometimes daily,” Geissinger said. “Congress may also decide to make changes, so what we think we know today, can change tomorrow. My crystal ball is very, very foggy beyond the next couple of years.
Join the Partnership throughout the year as it explores how the Affordable Care Act is changing workforce and skill sets needed for allied health careers in the critical areas of Acute Care, Ambulatory Care and Rehabilitative Care.
7 of the10 fastest growing occupations are in allied health