The Affordable Care Act has caused a number of changes in the healthcare industry, but one of the most significant is an influx of new patients for physicians' practices due to many people enrolling for insurance for the first time. By April 2014, approximately 7 million Americans became insured under the ACA, according to Government Health IT. With such a large number of newly insured patients, physicians are facing added challenges.
While the increased ACA enrollments certainly put pressures on doctors' offices to handle the scheduling of so many new patients, it's important to maintain engagement with existing patients as well. ACA enrollees could be crucial in the future growth of a practice. In fact, 50 percent of physicians have reported seeing patients covered by ACA, a survey from Practice Fusion revealed. Nearly half of these patients were previously uninsured. The poll was conducted in June, and 28 percent of doctors said their patient volumes had increased. Only about 12 percent reported a decrease. ACA enrollments were fairly consistent across the country.
How Doctors Can Attract New Patients
Because so many people are insured for the first time, they may not have had a general practitioner previously. This could be a significant patient acquisition opportunity for doctors. The ACA has many implications for both physicians and patients, and there is a growing emphasis on population health, Government Health IT stated. This essentially means preventative healthcare will gain more attention because it can reduce patients' costs in the long run.
Once physicians get across the hurdle of managing increased patient loads, it will be time to direct focus to improving population health. One of the crucial ways to do this will be to collect and assess patient data and identify problem areas. The article gave the example of how people who live in more polluted areas may be at an increased risk for asthma attacks, particularly individuals who already have this condition. Sophisticated data can help physicians determine root causes and create better preventative measures.
The increased use of electronic health records could improve accessibility to data trends. However, physicians need ways to turn this raw data into actionable insights. If they succeed, they can better engage more patients. Physicians should take advantage of the trend of population health and use it to inform patients of ways they can improve their personal health.