The U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act leaves the doors to America’s hospitals open to the largest onslaught of potential patients in the nation’s history, an estimated 30-40 million people who currently do not have coverage plus the leading edge of the 70-million-strong Baby Boom Generation.
The ruling is good news for suppliers of the type of medical information technology which helps hospitals maximize the use of existing capacity. Resource optimization will be crucial to the success of hospitals which must deal with a large influx of new patients without benefit of adding new capacity. Hospitals needing to do more with less now have access to operational tools, such as real-time capacity management, which can optimize space, staff and equipment resources while easing overcrowding, reducing waste and increasing revenue.
Reimbursement changes and a shift to disease prevention and more primary care may shift volume but capacity problems in hospitals are more complex than that. Fewer EDs, changing reimbursement models, lack of access to capital and the aging population coupled with ongoing challenges with community access to primary care, which may take years or even decades to fix, means it will continue to be increasingly important to the financial well-being of all hospitals to make the best use of existing capacity and resources.
Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, hospitals need to manage for what’s ahead without bleeding more red ink. The real-time enterprise of the industrial world may now experience a higher adoption rate in America’s hospitals because it achieves a key objective of Affordable Care Organizations (ACOs), to stabilize or reduce costs while improving patient care.