Patient Flow Software Blog

A Brief Look at the Affordable Care Act and Patient Flow

Posted by Mary Cooper on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 @ 12:36 PM

Fotolia 63875137 XSThe Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is a law that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services: “Puts consumers back in charge of their health care… [and] gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health.” Media coverage concerning the ACA has been focused on the effects for consumers, or patients. But, what about hospitals? How will the ACA effect health care providers?
The vision of Bernard Tyson, president and CEO of the Kaiser Permanente Health System, may help shed some light on these questions. According to Tyson, the current goal of health care providers, given the Affordable Care Act, is:

“…to get greater traction on our mission of affordability as we improve our quality agenda… working to be consumer friendly and consumer oriented… invest in technology that allows us to become even more efficient and member-focused… and to be the solution for health care … for both sickness and prevention at an affordable price.”

The ACA is causing health care organizations to add pre and post-acute services, to buy physician offices, to create new titles like “ambulatory CNEs,” to design remote patient monitoring services, and to develop work-a-rounds for integrating data. With more organizations adopting a vision to promote health and prevent illness, the people served are differently defined. Tyson, as you read above, easily refers to consumers. It’s not hard to see that continuing to refer to our area of interest as “Patient” Flow may need to be redefined.
But whether we use the term “consumer” or “patient,” this new act and Tyson’s vision both point to an increased attention to patient care on the part of health care providers. As it specifically applies to what we do at Patient Focus Systems, patient care often means the efficient flow of patients into appropriate beds, from bed to clinical areas and back, discharge from the hospital, and getting ready for the next patient. Patient flow technology enables communication efficiencies and real time decision-making, predictive data, workflow automation and risk management in patient flow processes. When the time to accomplish tasks relating to patient care is reduced, and quality is held constant, patient convenience is enhanced and cost of delivering care is reduced.

It remains to be seen if the ACA will help to encourage hospitals in putting more emphasis onnewtopatientflow the flow of patients (or consumers). At the point of care the need for more efficient flow is known and the people that are responsible for flowing patients through a course of care are trying to make the case. However, many administrations and IT staffs do not see a justifiable need.

We believe that the need for improved flow of patients and consumers will become more evident as the ACA takes hold. Bernard Tyson’s vision may be evidence of that.


Topics: patient flow, patient satisfaction, bed management, patient placement, patient transport