The Federal government directly and indirectly is in charge of our healthcare system. If Feds spent 634 million on a website, and hasn’t gotten it right after three years of preparation, does anyone with a modicum of intelligence think they can manage something as intricate and complex as the U.S. healthcare system?
One thing about the Affordable Care Act is clear: Hospitals will exist in a world where they are rewarded more for the quality of care than for the volume of patients they treat.
A grisly headshot of Walter White, the anti-hero of "Breaking Bad," glares from two computer monitors on the desk of Mike Schatzlein, the CEO of Saint Thomas Health, one of Nashville's major health care systems. The TV character's meth-cooking ways don't exactly line up with Saint Thomas' mission of faith-based care, Schatzlein joked, but he still loves a good show.
Schatzlein took the helm at Saint Thomas three years ago, just in time to pilot the system through some drama of its own — namely, the Affordable Care Act and federal health reform.
Today, hospitals across the country must transform to survive.
It may seem obvious, but hospitals remain major hubs of American health care. More than 35.1 million people were discharged from inpatient care at non-federal hospitals in 2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were more than 100 million outpatient department visits and almost 130 million visits to emergency departments in this country.
No one can say exactly how the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," will affect hospitals.
Should the act help more people access insurance, hospitals could get paid for charity care that they now provide for free to uninsured patients.
However, the ACA also could flood hospitals with new, high-use patients, which could tax already overburdened physicians and hospital staff. In addition, hospitals also could receive less money for the same services in the short term: The government has outlined plans to cut reimbursement rates for patients on Medicare.
Hospital administrators and employees are worried, with good reason.
Amid the uncertainty in the industry, one thread remains clear: Hospitals will, in the future, exist in a world where they are rewarded more for the quality of care than for the volume of patients they treat. As this transition occurs, hospitals must live in two worlds — one where they still earn money per procedure and another that views the treatment of patients in a more holistic way, with successful outcomes the most important measure of a hospital's performance.
We’ve seen the horrors of government healthcare in the UK and Canada where doctors are in short supply, government bureaucrats like Kathleen Sebelius makes healthcare decisions instead of doctors, and the quality of care takes a nose dive. That’s gonna be a cold slap of water to the faces of people that haven’t a clue what lays ahead.