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BOSTON, MA (March 11, 2014)—A newly released white paper reports far-reaching impacts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on America’s frontline healthcare workforce. The paper, Implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Impacts on the Frontlines of Caregiving, was issued by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and its implementation partner, Jobs for the Future.
The paper was authored by Dr. Randall Wilson, senior project manager, Jobs for the Future, and based on research conducted by CareerSTAT, a growing national initiative to document and endorse the business case for investments in frontline healthcare workers. These workers, who perform critical roles in healthcare—from medical assistants, patient intake coordinators and dietary staff—also have the most contact with patients.
According to CareerSTAT Director Jan Hunter, “Healthcare is a key driver of our economic growth and the implementation of this legislation requires that healthcare employers give equal attention to frontline workforce readiness, while they strategize about how they will provide care in all settings with all segments of the workforce. This white paper is designed to provide examples and recommendations to assist in decision-making and drive investments in frontline workers.”
Among the key findings:
- The ACA changes the way healthcare is financed and delivered, emphasizing primary care over hospital-based care, while holding providers to higher performance standards. More attention needs to be paid to how frontline workers can support healthcare organizations in this goal. The ACA puts greater emphasis on preventative care and the use of primary care providers and community health centers, along with a concerted focus to avoid readmissions. To date, many healthcare employers have yet to fully plan for the impact of the ACA on their frontline staffs.
- Despite the recent economic downturn—which has contributed to reduced turnovers, delayed retirements and a lessening need to fill vacancies—workforce development in healthcare for the longer term remains a critical need. Expanded coverage for the uninsured and expected increases for healthcare services will require investment in frontline workers. Occupations in high demand, according to employment data firm EMSI, include home health aides, physical and occupational therapist assistants, and emergency medical technicians—all of which are expected to grow at more than twice the rate of U.S. employment over the next decade. To date, healthcare organizations have largely focused their resources on developing workers with a college degree or higher and less so on preparing frontline workers—who tend to have less advanced education—for higher performance and skill levels.
- The aims of the ACA—providing higher-quality healthcare at a lower cost—will require higher skill and performance levels for all healthcare staff. Essential skills needed for frontline workers include teamwork, effective communications, problem solving, critical thinking and technological know-how.
- Skill needs will shift based on the patient-care setting. The ACA is accelerating the need for new or enhanced frontline roles in order to implement new, patient-centered models of delivering care. To meet this need, frontline workers need skills in coaching patients to manage their health conditions, coordinating patient care and helping patients navigate the health system.
Wilson also noted that the ACA may create more opportunities for frontline workers by tapping into underutilized segments of the workforce. “The frontline workforce stands to benefit from ACA implementation,” noted Wilson, “as there are expected to be career opportunities for youth, young adults, new immigrants and less-skilled candidates, especially for direct-care and administrative roles.”
Larry Beck, past president/advisor to MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, who also serves as chair of CareerSTAT, said, "This timely and comprehensive research will provide healthcare leaders with a snapshot of the needs arising from the Affordable Care Act and insight into innovative models for staffing and training to accommodate this game-changing legislation. They will benefit from these recommendations in their efforts to integrate frontline workers into strategies to provide quality care at lower costs."
CareerSTAT and its growing network of healthcare employer partners across the country can assist hospitals and healthcare organizations that are interested in exploring the process of investing in frontline workforce development. For more information and
Click to download a free copy of the white paper, Implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Impacts on the Frontlines of Caregiving. For more information, visit the CareerSTAT initiative page.
About National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, based in Boston, Mass., is an unprecedented initiative of more than 400 national and local funders whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers. The National Fund supports regional collaboratives in 30 communities across the country. Together, they organize industry partnerships to develop a pipeline of skilled workers to meet the needs of employers and promote improvements to business practices and public policies that lead to better career opportunities for our nation’s workers and jobseekers. To learn more, visit the National Fund for Workforce Solutions initiative page.
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future works with its partners to design and drive adoption of education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today's economy. To learn more, visit www.jff.org.
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