California healthcare workers will need better customer service skills, training in data analysis and will need to fill new roles as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco.
“Ultimately, the ACA will have a greater effect on workplace culture, healthcare delivery systems, healthcare technologies and education than on absolute numbers of workers,” author Joanne Spetz, PhD, professor at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies and associate director for research at the UCSF Center for the Health Professions, said in a news release. “The reality is that most growth in healthcare jobs in California will be driven by the aging of the state’s population, ACA or no ACA. The more interesting and profound changes will be qualitative, not quantitative.”
The study’s authors analyzed state and national healthcare data and conducted in-depth interviews with healthcare leaders from across California. The leaders agreed that ACA implementation in California has increased the demand for services and is driving the need for new models of care.
Healthcare leaders also see the ACA as driving change from a clinic- and hospital-based fee-for-service model of care to a model that emphasizes preventive care and positive patient outcomes. “There is a new focus on measurement — of quality of care, cost of care and patient satisfaction,” co-author Susan Chapman, RN, PhD, FAAN, a professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the UCSF School of Nursing, said in the release. “As a result, healthcare organizations need to be attuned to patient interests and satisfaction as never before. This means that current and future healthcare workers will need better training in customer service skills, as well as more education in the use of technology to interpret data.”
The study also found:
• The rate of technological innovation, such as remote healthcare and the use of mobile health apps, will continue to increase.
• Behavioral health services will need to be better integrated into primary care.
• Care navigators and coordinators will be in high demand to guide patients through the healthcare system — a role that could potentially be filled by medical assistants or licensed vocational nurses if they receive the right training.
• Employees will need to work to the full extent permitted by their licenses, which may mean that contracts will have to be renegotiated and regulations will need to change.
“Leaders will have to adapt to this changing world, and healthcare workers at all levels will have to learn new leadership skills, including critical thinking, decision-making and providing constructive feedback,” Spetz said in the release.“We’re looking at a world in which LVNs and medical assistants do care management, clerks move along the implementation of electronic health record systems, and RNs become leaders and champions of these new systems.”
Physicians will have to learn new collaborative skills as well, Spetz said, “such as working in teams and giving constructive feedback to colleagues.”
The study was supported by funds from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the California Hospital Association, the California Workforce Development Board, SEIU-UHW and the SEIU-UHW Joint Employer Trust.
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