ACA photo, courtesy Reuters

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of upholding the Affordable Care Act last week was of course a victory for the Obama Administration, but what’s in it for us and the ecosystem of innovators who are working to improve healthcare? Here’s what I see as a few key impacts of the ruling:

  1. Elimination of uncertainty. No matter the early impacts of the ACA over the past few years in terms of shifting of incentives, payment policies and access to care, more recent fear that the Act may not survive created a cloud of uncertainty for innovators, our investors, and our customers. Would Accountable Care Organizations continue? Would people lose their insurance coverage? What alternatives would emerge if the ACA failed? For the many innovators whose value propositions are staked on aspects of the ACA, the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, is not only a relief but a boon. The SCOTUS ruling in favor of the law not only removes any potential industry paralysis that could have occurred, but the true impacts are felt through the policies the Act supports.

  1. Benefits to hospitals and health care systems. With more Americans having health care coverage, hospitals and health care systems have the opportunity to capture more revenue. Of course, this opportunity comes with the challenge of scaling services such that costs of delivering that care can be contained. For those organizations who are now risk-bearing and have aligned their objectives to improve quality while reducing costs, the ruling affirms their trajectory. With any uncertainty behind them now, these healthcare organizations can accelerate their Quality Improvement initiatives, including the implementation of new tools and methods. Innovators who have healthcare systems as their customers will only gain. 

  1. Incentives for quality & cost reduction. A key facet of the ACA is the alignment of incentives to ensure that healthcare providers are compensated on the basis of quality of care delivered rather than quantity. While the transition to a truly value-based system is still very much in progress, this shift in mindset has provided opportunities for the new tools that Klio and our peers are creating that help providers either improve the patient experience, enable the management of patient populations or reduce the cost of care. Innovations that help health care delivery organizations meet their Triple Aim objectives through enhanced patient-provider communication, data analytics, or medication adherence are now in increasing demand as providers seek new ways to improve their performance.

I’d say that this is a win. There has probably never been a better time to be creating new tools improve healthcare. Now that the handwringing can stop, it’s time to really get to work!