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The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to
as “Obamacare,” is making significant impact on the health care industry in the
United States. For consumers of health care, some of the implications are quite
tangible in terms of access to health care and awareness. For health
workers themselves, some of the changes translate into more long-term issues
affecting the job market, education, and innovation. According to Dr. Matthew Caines and Dr. Susan Archibald of Kaplan University’s School
of Health Sciences, individuals with health careers or students pursuing
education can expect the ACA to continue to impact careers for years to come.
“In terms of job opportunity and schooling expectations, we see the ACA
affecting today’s and tomorrow’s health workers in several major areas,
specifically insurance implications, data analytics, and disease prevention,”
explained Dr. Caines.
The ACA offers expanded accessibility for various newer or underserved populations. For the health
worker, this additional pool of participants changes the health care landscape
so much that dramatic shifts are occurring. For instance, various new job opportunities in health care are expected.*
Simply stated, it’s projected that more health care professionals will be
needed to handle the increased patient load. This increase in opportunity
exists in health care facilities as well as positions with health care
insurance providers. In addition, many organizations are looking toward their
administrative staff to make shifts in hiring to handle the overload cost
effectively. Graduate-trained health professionals provide unique skillset to
health organizations needing improvement in business efficiency, effectiveness,
Health care administrators are also being called upon to find
innovative and creative ways to handle the increase as well as the complexity
of treatment that often accompanies some of these underserved populations. For
instance, the role of insurance companies is now including a focus on worksite
wellness initiatives to lower the cost of care. This creates new and more challenging
positions for health care administrators and also impacts the educational path
of individuals interested in the field of healthcare administration. “We
emphasize that health care leaders of the future need to understand new ways of
presenting health care to the masses, while containing costs and being
efficient,” said Dr. Archibald. Kaplan University’s Master in Health Care Administration program is
designed to prepare students to handle complex new developments in technology,
economics, ethics, finance, policy, and management.
As part of the implementation of the ACA, health care organizations
across the nation are transitioning to electronic health records to build an
interoperable national data infrastructure. With this huge undertaking comes
great opportunity to advance our health care system as well as an immense
amount of knowledge and data to be managed and analyzed.
With the influx of data being obtained and recorded, health
professionals have the added obligation of increased information security.
Information security experts are necessary to manage data collection and
storage. The ACA as well as other federal legislation, such as HIPAA
and the HITECH Act, make it necessary for organizations
to prove competency and be proficient with this data management process.
Quality of care and managing health outcomes are
also critical components of the ACA. Regulated metrics are reported to government
agencies from all facilities. Accrediting bodies collect additional information
through various evaluation processes. These programs need to be handled by
professionals trained and fluent in the area of data analytics in order to
create business intelligence that can be used in a useful, meaningful way. “Ten
or 15 years ago, we did not possess the tools to analyze big data the way we
are able to do today,” said Dr. Caines. “New innovations in technology allow
health informatics professionals to provide business intelligence to a health
organization. Business intelligence provides insights to improve an
organization. For the health industry, these insights might help improve
efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of health services,” he added. According
to Dr. Caines, two Kaplan University graduate programs relate to the management
and analysis of data: the Master of Health Informatics program and the Master of Health Information Management program.
Another major area affected by the ACA is our country’s public health
system. “Many people are under the misconception that the ACA deals mainly with
health insurance, but this health policy also provides funding and new
opportunities for the fields of public health and health education/promotion,”
said Dr. Caines. For instance, the ACA established the Prevention
and Public Health Fund. The ACA provides funding for public health
professionals to operate within the industry and have job security. In
addition, new policies within the ACA may allow for the development of
additional jobs in the public health arena. One example is a regulation that
requires restaurants with over 20 locations to document caloric value for nutrition on their menus.
University offers a Master in Public Health program, and as Dr.
Caines points out, all professionals in the health industry are expected to
work together. “The scope of public health, health care administration, health
informatics/information management, and health education/promotion is quickly becoming
cross-disciplinary,” he said. “Health professionals clearly understand their
main field or niche, but also have working knowledge of the other health
professions,” said Dr. Caines.
“Career paths open up when an
individual can cross over among disciplines, such as health care
administration, public health, health informatics, health information
management and health education,” Dr. Archibald added. “We strive to educate
our students to be flexible, move within the industry, and be open to continuous
and cross-disciplinary training,” she said. “It’s vital to stay current with
the constant changes our health care industry endures.”
Implementing “Obamacare”: An Update
Electronic Medical Records and the Future
Did you find this article interesting? If so, share it!
And if you are considering pursuing a health sciences degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
*National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.
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