A Few Questions on the Future of Healthcare
A dozen years ago, we were wearing beepers and using Palm Pilots to organize our business worlds and a sales guy walks into the office and says, “I have a software program on a palm pilot that allows physicians to key in patient visit data and it pops out a CPT code that can be batched loaded into practice management system.”
It was a star wars moment and the pushback was that “it’s too small, it comes dangerously close to prompting a code, and most importantly, physicians won’t use. It’s still a paper world.”
Fast forward to today, healthcare is becoming paperless in the delivery of care, operations and administrative processes. These transitions to new technologies are making improvements in surgical procedures, the wireless transfer of information, management of records and financial procedures. Most importantly, the transformations are improving patient care.
Patient portals are changing the way practices communicate with information that patients were never exposed to before, much less be able to look at. Cloud technology is changing the need for hardware (expensive hardware) and the landscape of healthcare future is whatever the mind can conceive. Please allow this personal example. A friend, Medicare age, went to see their primary care physician. They had routine blood work and the next day got a message on the phone that the physician had a message for them on the patient portal. The message was, “I have reviewed your blood work and all is within normal limits except kidney function tests. I am referring you to a nephrologists; here’s the name and number.”
So is it possible to get more information quicker and at the same time be more distanced from physician? Will the next generation of patients even see a physician, or get texts after visits with an allied provider? Will community clinics become places where we go for screenings that will predict our pre-disposition to certain diseases that can be treated before we even actually get the disease?
And will fee for service continue to be the payment method? Will the Insurance Exchange plans be affordable? Will the increase in MCD patients mean more and more physicians will flock to hospitals for relief? At the end of the day will we have more people with insurance, but fewer hospital admissions because sick patients can’t afford their high deductibles?
It’s time to get just as creative on the financial side of healthcare as we are on the technology side. And that guy that came into the office a dozen years ago with the palm pilot, he’s retired now and on MCR.
There are a lot of fresh ideas about technology, but where are the fresh ideas about how we pay for it coming from? Controlling cost will mean shutting down huge half-filled hospitals in favor of more manageable small, but filled hospitals. It will mean empowering providers to deliver care and manage patients, not data. They will have people for that.
Will single provider practices be able to compete? Will all Physicians be employed? Will we have choices or will patients be directed into pools managed by yet another pool of physicians and nurses and physician assistants?
The answers will come from either the readers of this blog or from government. It is your choice!