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The Affordable Care Act is coming. What does this mean to those in the health care industry? What regulations must they meet? How can they adapt?
Thirty-seven Auburn University Physicians Executive MBA and seven Healthcare track Executive MBA students had the opportunity to explore those questions, and more, at the Medico-Legal Aspects of Healthcare: Emerging Policy Issues seminar in Washington, D.C., March 17-20.
“How do we figure out how to make this (Obamacare) work, and what are the implications for us now that this is law?” asked Auburn Torchmark Professor of Management and Academic Director of the PEMBA program, Stanley Harris, who accompanied the students on the trip.
“It was an attempt to get a sense of the new health care policy and legal issues right where it’s all happening. It’s the law of the land. Basically, they learned how to operate within it. They have the realization that we are going to be doing it.”
The program was co-sponsored by the Auburn’s College of Business and the Southern Medical Association. According to its agenda, the purpose was to “increase learner’s knowledge and competence in responding to the changes brought about by healthcare reform, including associated regulations and policies designed for cost containment.”
Upon leaving, participants were expected to be able to “Prepare strategies to successfully manage the changes brought about by reform,” according to the program agenda.
“The students were stimulated by the seminar and clear about the challenges of improving quality and access for patients,” Harris said.
Dr. Ronnie Alvarez, an OB/GYN at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and student within the PEMBA program, said the seminar was very helpful.
“The Pemba course on health policy in Washington, D.C. could not have come at a better time given the revolutionary changes that are occurring in the U.S. health care system,” said Alvarez. “While the challenges are many, there are many potential opportunities for those physicians with business training and experience to help facilitate the type of changes that will lead to higher quality and more cost effective care for our patients.”
Dr. Karen Carlson, an anesthesiologist at the Emory Clinic, called the trip "fantastic."
"The speakers were all excellent and they were all incredibly knowledgeable about their specific interests," she said. "To be able to hear from lobbyists, people inside CMS and an actual congressman was very insightful. I feel like I got the real inside story about what's going on in Washington regarding Healthcare policy. I will be using the information I learned to educate my colleagues at Emory in a grand rounds presentation for the department.”
Participants were educated on a number of initiatives, including the patient-centered medical home philosophy, accountable care organizations and shared savings programs.
According to a definition released by the American College of Physicians, a patient-centered medical is, “a team-based health care delivery model led by a physician, P.A., or N.P. that provides comprehensive and continuous medical care to patients with the goal of obtaining maximized health outcomes.”
Harris said an accountable care organization’s philosophy is to “an attempt to move away from ‘fee-for-service;’ to go more toward ‘getting paid to cover a life.’” ACO’s are efforts for physicians and hospitals to collaborate to provide quality care for a patient population. He said shared savings programs could be introduced in hospitals and encouraged doctors to get involved and promote specific quality initiatives and cost savings for premium reimbursement. Much of the ACA stems around quality of care – and healthcare providers can be rewarded for their performance in that area.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear a number of lectures regarding business in the health care industry. A sample of these included: • Role of Health Insurance Exchanges Under the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) • Clinical Integration for Quality Improvement • Recovery Audit Contractors – Are They Here Yet? • Federal Health Care Policy, by Congressman Andrew Harris, M.D. • Medicare Fraud • Sustainable Growth Formula and Future Payment Options
“The lectures were timely and important as we learned the important issues and decisions our nation must address and understand to help solve our healthcare issues," said Dr. Tej Singh, a vascular surgeon in Palo Alto, Calif. "As many of us take the next step to leadership in our organizations, the trip and the Auburn Physician Executive MBA combination will serve us very well!”
The trip was part of the 21-month course in the PEMBA curriculum.