Affordable Care Act a challenge for the U

With President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act coming into action, medical centers across the nation must prepare to work with an increase of patients and reduced payments because of lower reimbursements from the government and commercial insurance. The U Health Care system is implementing programs and projects to increase quality of care with limited resources.

Last year, the U was ranked among the top 10 in the University HealthSystem Consortium’s quality leadership award. As a leading academic medical center, the U hopes to continue its quality of care, even with reduced costs, and focus on major aspects, such as caring for more patients with insurance and finding a solution for the lack of physicians.

“From our perspective, one direct impact is that with more individuals who will have access to insurance, the physician shortage in Utah will be even worse. And so our need to train more physicians is even more pressing,” said Vivian Lee, senior vice president for health sciences,.

According to David Entwistle, CEO of hospitals and clinics at U Health Care, one solution to the lack of physicians is to increase class sizes and enable more students to be trained as doctors. There is a big push to extend class size, Entwistle said.

Besides the shortage of physicians, the U is looking at its finances to see where money is being spent and whether the spending is efficient. Currently the U is working on a couple of initiatives: Lean and VDO, or value-driven outcomes.

Lean was first derived from Toyota in the 1930s to better manage automobiles and their costs. This initiative focuses particularly on reducing waste and enhancing quality and value with limited resources.

VDO attempts to help employees understand costs within their companies and provide the best care with the lowest possible cost.

In her blog posted May 2012, Lee said VDO will help providers better understand how they practice, what items are contributing to patients and what items are unnecessary within the hospital.

With these initiatives, the U will look at all components of the hospital from the type of implants it uses and what services are offered down to the supplies and whether or not it receives the best deal.

Entwistle said it will be a challenge to deal with access issues and an increase in patients and those with insurance will occur. But their goal is to not to affect the incomes of providers, but to make patient’s care more efficient.

“We want to make sure that we keep our people here, keep them happy,” Entwistle said. “Cutting people is not our goal, and cutting the salaries is not our goal either.”

The U has purchased property in Davis County for a future health center to expand potential health care. Ophthalmology and dermatology services are planned to open in Murray in 2014. The U has also partnered with a community hospital in Rock Spring, Wyo., to ensure the U’s health care is the referral health system for patients who need additional care.