2014 holds many challenges for healthcare practices. Being prepared is vital to the success of each practice. Of course there are the routine things that practices need to be aware of at the beginning of each year: contracts with payers need to be examined and re-negotiated based on population and service, contracts with vendors should be challenged and a search for best prices and optimal service carried out, employee training and needs should be assessed in the light of 2014 requirements, etc.
But there are three things that will require special attention this year that practices have not had to manage before:
ICD 10 conversion effective October 1, 2014 – this is probably the biggest challenge facing practices today. To the extent a practice is trained, ready and all the computer systems tested along with payer training and testing will determine how successful this conversion will be for practices. MMS predicts that many practices and hospitals will not be ready to meet this challenge and resulting cash flow issues for 30-90 days will ensue. For a more in-depth look at this issue, look for our new white paper on ICD 10 coming in January.
The so called “Obama care” act will be in full use March 1, 2014. This will mean for most practices an increase in patient demand, more out of pocket expenses for patients, and possible more Medicaid patients depending on the state. Your ability to know the state and federal offerings and varieties of plans is critical to establishing a rapport with these new patients. Establishing a policy to manage out of pocket expenses like deductibles and co-payments will require creativity and clarity. Making sure before appointments that patients have the coverage they believe they have through phone or on-line verification is critical.
Security and management of electronic records. Never before has there been a greater emphasis on the keeping of electronic medical records and the manipulation of large blocks of data securely been more serious. Even as more and more practices employ EHRs to maintain their patients registration in medical records; being able to retrieve data and use to treat and manage chronic illnesses will become the future. Doing so in a secure and protected environment will become both problematic and necessary.
Indeed, 2014 holds many challenges for practices and vendors and payers and government resources as well. Getting ahead of the curve will serve your practice well.