As we approach Thanksgiving, we focus on giving thanks. Notwithstanding the rough, confusing and troubling roll-out of Healthcare Reform, there are some benefits that we can be thankful.
First, Healthcare Reform is focused upon improving quality care for patients. Specifically, Healthcare Reform implemented new payment models that pay providers based upon healthcare outcomes for patients instead of a fee for each patient. One example is the shared savings program. Under this program, providers integrate together to deliver care based upon patient centered protocols. The providers then report on the quality metrics for their patients and if the costs are reduced and the patient outcomes improve, the providers will receive a share of the savings achieved by reducing the costs to the government. The integration of providers together with an agreed upon approach to treat the patient should improve communication between the healthcare providers.
Healthcare Reform is also changing the communication between the providers and the patients. Today, providers are focused upon engaging the patient to be accountable for his or her care. By engaging the patient, providers seek to have the patient comply with the treatment plans and to take his or her medications. Ultimately, the integration of providers and engagement of patients should positively impact patient’s outcomes.
Second, Healthcare Reform drives an increased focus on wellness and preventative medicine. In the last couple of years, Medicare removed the copayment requirement for Medicare beneficiaries to receive screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies each year. By encouraging healthcare screenings, the Healthcare Reform initiatives intend to drive preventative care to prevent crisis management. Specifically, by engaging in preventative screenings, providers can detect potential illnesses earlier, to initiate treatment quicker and ultimately achieve better outcomes. Improving patient outcomes should reduce the costs.
Third, Healthcare Reform is driving innovation. The desire to change how healthcare is delivered is causing providers to think outside of the box. This has opened up great opportunity for healthcare service providers. In fact, healthcare information technology companies are developing applications to engage patients and change how providers and patients communicate. Healthcare information technology companies are also developing programs to assist providers in automating the delivery of care. The expanded adoption of electronic health records and the use of electronic communications are changing how providers share information and how patients communicate with their physician. Using innovation to drive changes in healthcare opens new opportunities for jobs and economic development
Improving patient outcomes, increasing the focus on wellness and preventative medicine and new innovation will change healthcare in the future regardless of whether Healthcare Reform remains in effect. With the troubled roll-out of healthcare.gov and the negative impacts that have been in the headlines, it is hard to see the benefits of Healthcare Reform. Healthcare Reform may migrate and change over time, but now that the train has left the station, healthcare will be changed forever. Although we do not know what the final impact of Healthcare Reform will be in the future, today we can focus on simple positive tenets that will impact the healthcare as we continue to review and adjust to the ever changing regulations.