Juyly 11, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Courts recent decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act means the American health care system has the potential to continue down a path of profound change and growth in the coming decades. And already millions of words have been written to dissect the Act but what is useful now is to look at how it will impact WesternU.
Over the next three years, an estimated 30 million more Americans will have new access to health care thanks to the ACA's provisions. This surge in new patients will mean increased demands on health professionals of all types, especially primary care providers. It also will mean an increased push for preventive medicine - both as a long-term health strategy for patients and as a cost-control measure for the system itself - and will place new emphasis on integrated health delivery and health outcomes.
WesternU and its graduates are well-positioned to meet these new demands and to immediately make a difference in the changing health-care world. Our institution's philosophy has always been one of treating the "whole" patient, regardless of discipline; this approach dovetails nicely with the need for primary care specialists and those who can identify health issues across a broad range of areas. Thanks to the Interprofessional Education program - which WesternU was among the first academic health centers to fully embrace - and thanks to our Western Diabetes Institute, our students already have developed the professional sensibility needed to thrive in an integrated-care environment. Moreover, our commitment to bettering health care practices through the study of health outcomes can be seen across campus, especially in the many areas of the Patient Care Center.
Most important, though, is the commitment our students, faculty and staff make on a daily basis to the betterment of the health of our patients and our communities in Southern California and in the Pacific Northwest, and in all of the communities our graduates serve. These things always are paramount in our approach to our duties, as they are in what ultimately matters, regardless of systems, insurance plans, political mechanics or court rulings. Treating our patients with compassion, care, and expertise must, and always will, come first.
If the ACA is sustained, we will be able to care for more of these patients sooner in their health-care lives, and will be able to build relationships with them that will allow preventive care measures to take full effect and improve their quality of life. Additionally, the increased need for physicians and other health professionals should lead to expanded funding for Graduate Medical Education positions across the country, which ensures that our graduates will receive the full spectrum of training needed to better serve.
The Affordable Care Act is not etched in stone. The winds of politics, and of medicine itself, could lead to even greater changes in how our nation's health care system will take shape in the coming years. WesternU and its thousands of health-professions students and graduates will thrive because "the art of caring" will endure, in spite of challenging political and social conditions - and rightly so.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU's Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.
All the best,