HealthDay News — The impact of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on primary care practices will vary geographically, and patient characteristics will likely raise new practice challenges, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

Changes will be most felt in those practices that contract with plans found in the health care insurance exchanges or that take Medicaid patients and are located in the 26 states or District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid eligibility, noted Jeffrey Bendix, senior editor and author of the article.

Among the changes likely to be experienced are not only an influx of new patients, but a change in the makeup of the expanded patient population, according to Bendix. With many of the patients not having had access to regular care before, they are more likely to have untreated chronic conditions.

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Some clinicians are concerned that these new patients may present compliance challenges, so education will be key, Reid Blackwelder, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians emphasized in the article.

To make practices more efficient in dealing with the influx of patients, an online patient portal can free up time needed to share lab results or handle prescription refill requests.

Additionally, when booking appointments, staff should ask patients about any changes in their insurance status to get out in front of insurance-related issues.

“The challenge of caring for more [patients] (as a result of the ACA) will require us […] to make sure we do good education, because one of the most important aspects of adherence to treatment plans is making sure you’re clear about what you’re doing, and why, so you can explain it to the patient,” Blackwelder said.