The Affordable Care Act. Some love it, some hate it, and some, quite frankly, don’t understand it.

Certain aspects of the new legislation, such as affordability, coverage, and payment, have been widely publicized and criticized since its implementation. Oddly enough, one critical aspect of the ACA that has been relatively ignored by the media and nonindustry masses is the initiative to improve patient safety and quality of care.

For the first time, under the ACA, hospitals will be incentivized through a number of government and nongovernment programs to provide the very best patient care. Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing Program, implemented in October 2012, is one such effort that evaluates hospitals on 12 clinical quality measures that correlate payment to statistics pertaining to patient readmission rates, hospital and surgical errors, and patient experience of care scores, among others.

Regardless as to whether healthcare professionals have enough responsibilities on their plate, they’ll now be faced with the challenge to create and implement new procedures to guarantee that their hospital is running as efficiently, effectively, safely, and resourcefully as possible.

While this is a big step in healthcare, initiatives to improve patient safety and quality care are by no means a new issue. In 2004, as mentioned in a case study in the book Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath, Dr. Donald Berwick founded the Institute of Health Improvement to serve that exact purpose.

Employing a strategy that also serves as the foundation of our philosophy here at Brandkarma on how to change behavior, Dr. Berwick managed to alter the course of patient safety protocols in hospitals, successfully changing decades of old habits and routines.

Look for part 2 of our next installment to find out what Dr. Berwick did to achieve widespread behavioral change among healthcare professionals.