Of the 5700 hospitals in this country, most are the result of financial and historical trends that are changing the very nature of these facilities along with the makeup of their staffs. Community hospitals, once symbols of civic pride, are disappearing as economics have forced many to join broad healthcare systems or close their doors. The myth that being closer to patients translates into better quality of services and outcomes is no longer relevant in an age of efficient transportation systems and complex, integrative treatment. Instead, studies show that quality patient care is the result of the volume of patients seen and procedures performed at each facility. The emphasis of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) away from the fee-for-service towards a pay-for-performance model will likely accelerate the trend towards consolidation and closings of smaller hospitals.
As the switch to preventative, patient-centered care unfolds, hospitals are re-evaluating their staffing needs as well. They are moving away from the independent doctors model and shifting to a coordinated staff model of caregiving. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are being hired to fill some of the service gaps, even as hospitals hire more primary care doctors to lead the new teams. PTs, PTAs, OTs, COTAs and SLPs have a unique perspective that suggests they can and should play a pivotal role in this new care model. There is no learning curve for what are already patient-centered careers. These professionals bring to a patient’s care team not only assessment and treatment capabilities,but post-trauma real-life solutions to avoid reinjuries or rehospitalizations.
Since one of the monetary incentives under ACA is reducing the latter, hospitals would do well to look at rehab pros in a new light. How has your hospital and your role there changed in the wake of ACA? What is your vision for the future of acute care facilities and for your profession? Centra would love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment on our Facebook page.