The affordable care act passed Now what?

health care managment, health care reform, online instructionBy: Cheryl Anderson

Online Health Care Management
Program Chair

Current universities and colleges that provide health care management courses are grappling with the new health care reforms. The challenge is how to instruct health care management students on the future needs and trends in the health care environment. With the regulatory field rapidly changing, and the pace of innovation, there is a challenge to keep health care management programs current and relevant.

Militello and Sheppeck (2012) completed a survey of 70 health care organizations to determine what the organizations see as challenges for the Affordable Care Act passed in 2012. The researchers are both University of St. Thomas professors teaching in the health care management area of the Opus College of Business. The research was prompted by the integration of health care reform legislation (e.g. the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and educational reform legislation (e.g. Health Care Education Reconciliation Act) into the overarching law collectively referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This marriage of two different pieces of legislation is particularly important for instructors in current health care management programs.

While the legislation is clear on the mandate for health insurance coverage for citizens, it provides no direction on how health care organizations should meet the potential changing needs of health care. The researchers sampled over 500 organizations with a completed response from 70 organizations scattered across the country.

The survey questions centered on how organizations were planning, or orienting planning toward the future. The underlying belief is that strategic planning is a necessity to keep any organization viable. The researchers were interested in determining what type of strategies currently existed and what types of strategies may be needed. The idea was to determine gaps in current knowledge areas that may help health care management programs better prepare graduates to meet.

The data set findings are interesting. The data separated out into three unplanned clusters. Forty percent of the sample showed a defined strategic focus. These organizations were seeking out ways to differentiate their business plans from the competitive market. This group was looking at developing unique forms of patient care. These organizations were actively recruiting new and innovative talent.

Thirty four percent of the sample was defined to be in the second cluster. These organizations appeared to be at the median of all measured variables. It seemed that these organizations represented groups that were cautious. These organizations were not doing anything novel and seemed worried about the volatility of the health care industry.

The third cluster made up the remaining 14%. These organizations seemed unable to move in any direction. Either management or the underlying governance structure was either unable or unwilling to consider any change or new prospects in the way health care is delivered.

The researchers seemed discouraged with the overall findings. Militello and Sheppeck (2012) noted the recent legislation is looking at a significant consumer focus and consumer involvement in creating accountable care organizations. Further, the legislation leaves open the door for innovation and novel approaches to treat a population through a preventive focus versus the current reactive focus. It appears that many health care providers do not have a strong understanding of market focus or consumer need.

This research is interesting and germane to Globe University and health care management programs in general. Since Globe is training today’s and tomorrow’s health care leaders, we need to consider how we integrate the idea of innovation, market driven need, a change in health care delivery model, and the need to take business risks.


Militello, J. & Sheppeck, M. (2012). The affordable care act passed. Now what  B. The Magazine of the University of St. Thomas Opus College of  Business: State of  Health Care. 9(2). 16- 19.