Hospitals Struggle to Focus on Quality Over Volume Under Obamacare

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 03:39 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Hospitals are facing new challenges with the implementation of Obamacare as they struggle to transition from being rewarded for the volume of patients they treat to a system that instead prioritizes quality of care.

"We have to understand that today, we are still paid for volume," Kevin Locke, managing partner of the CPA firm Dixon Hughes Goodman, told USA Today.


"As we migrate from that system to one that pays for value, we have to stay financially solvent. It's figuring out that puzzle in the middle."


Under the Affordable Care Act, the government will offer financial incentives to hospitals that perform well in terms of quality. It will make an assessment of performance using a combination of clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction surveys, according to USA Today.

On the flip side, hospitals that perform poorly will be penalized. For example, since October 2012, the government has begun cutting Medicare reimbursements for hospitals with readmission rates considered excessive. In 2015, hospitals with high rates of hospital-acquired infections will also receive cuts in their reimbursement rates.

Vanderbilt University's medical center has already announced job cuts to prepare for some of the economic uncertainties caused in part by health care reform and the volume-to-quality shift.

But even in the face of those challenges, some welcome the change.

"What's cool about this is that all of a sudden the country needs what faith-based Catholic healthcare was designed to provide, which is holistic, reverent care across the spectrum of time and space," Dr. Mike Schatzlein, CEO of Tennessee-based Saint Thomas Health, told USA Today.

Related Stories:

Hospitals May Pay for Insurers' Debtor Patients Under Obamacare

Ivy League Professors: Obamacare Penalty Will Hurt Hospitals, Patients




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