5 Steps to Prepare for Healthcare Changes in the New Year

1
Join an ACO

An ACO or Accountable Care Organization is one of the leading trends right now. This health care model promises to deliver better patient outcomes at lower prices. Joining an ACO has achieved greater collaboration among doctors which has led to improved quality of care for patients.  However, the major outcome that ACOs promised to deliver was a significant reduction in healthcare costs which has yet to be seen. 

ACOs also represent a financial model that rewards value as opposed to traditional payment models that focus on the volume of services provided. 

Since ACOs are a relatively new concept in the healthcare industry, there is still much to learn about the long-term impact to the health care industry as a whole as well as for individual providers and patients.

2
Focus on Preventive Care and Wellness

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Image Courtesy of Bruce Ayres/Getty Images

New health insurance plans featuring higher deductibles and out of pocket expenses for patients may require providers to focus more on preventive care and wellness.  Since patients are responsible for a larger portion of their medical treatment, preventive care will become more important to them. 

Most preventive care and wellness programs are provided to patients through their health insurance at low or no cost. This presents an opportunity for providers to focus their marketing strategies on the preventive care and wellness programs as opposed to costly treatments. Healthy eating, exercise and weight loss will become increasingly more common for patients.

3
Implement Telehealth Services

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The competitive environment for telehealth services is beginning to increase tremendously. As health care services continue to become enhanced by advances in technology, the medical office is becoming progressively capable of increasing patient satisfaction and improving quality of care.

My prediction is that telehealth will become increasingly popular due to the flexibility and convenience it offers. Of course, there will also be a need for a physical medical practice for patients to visit but for simple medical matters, telehealth services are constantly evolving. As the reimbursement, regulations, and resistance barriers begin to lift, more providers and patients will begin to benefit from these new technologies.

4
Enhance Patient Quality and Safety Standards

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As previously stated, many health insurance payers are moving towards a value-based financial model in contrast with the traditional financial model that focuses on the volume of services provided.  While payment is not the only reason to focus on patient quality and safety standards, it is an incentive to encourage real change within health care organizations to focus more on quality versus quantity.

Another benefit of enhancing quality and safety standards is to maintain a great reputation.  In today's society, your online reputation is even more important than your offline reputation. Although, word of mouth travels quickly, the internet has a wider reach. It is important to continuously take action that improves patient satisfaction, quality of care, and safety in order to develop and maintain a positive image of your practice.

5
Reinvent Your Practice

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Image Courtesy of Jim Craigmyle/Getty Images

The entire health care industry is changing at a rapid pace including patients which requires the medical practice to continuously improve in order to maintain a competitive edge. Performing an assessment allows you to identify opportunities for improvement.

Usually managers and administrators only consider performing an assessment when the medical office is in financial trouble, however, an assessment can be done any time to evaluate your overall performance. Performing an assessment now can prevent costly consultant fees later.  The information you gather will inform you in the direction you need to take your practice.

A successful strategy is one that takes the medical office forward, towards the direction it wants to go as each area of focus is developed and executed. It requires focus and dedication from everyone involved because the team is only as strong as its weakest link.

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