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4 health trends of the post-Affordable Care Act world

Healthcare reform has had a profound impact on the medical community over the past few years. According to a report released by PwC Health, the Affordable Care Act has "left an indelible mark" on the health sector, and has prevailed despite on-going debate and controversy.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) looks like it is here to stay. This month, as we approach the five year anniversary of the reform, it is important to look back and consider the trends the ACA introduced, trends that will go on to shape the industry regardless of what happens to the law itself.

Value-based care: The healthcare industry was carefully spreading and shifting risk before the ACA was introduced, but the reform pushed the trend into new territories. For providers, the law took steps to change how Medicare reimburses hospitals for care by offering financial incentives and penalties that encourage better care coordination, higher-quality outcomes and less fragmentation. Hospitals and caregivers that were boxed in by other payment methods are now able to implement value-based care in their own practices.

Focus on primary care: The ACA recognized the importance of primary care teams, including physician "extenders." Their ability to deliver routine medical care while directing more concerning patients to specialists offers great value to the U.S. health system. The ACA now requires health plans to cover primary and preventative care as an essential health benefit. This means that billions more in payments are available to keep physicians engaged with Medicare and Medicaid. The new rules also provide incentive to new doctors to develop careers in primary care.

Emphasis on innovation: According to the PwC more than 90 new companies were created since the law took effect in 2010. With all the new players in the field medical professionals are looking to innovative ways to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. Practices that partner with Patient Approved are able to receive and interact with real-time feedback from patients regarding the care they were provided, which offers opportunities for growth and improvement.