Decision making and realizing the consequences of decision-making has never been more complex or critical as in these uncertain times for healthcare executives. Reacting to federal mandates and laws takes time and considerable judgment as much of the definition of the law as yet to be decided by the legislature.
Leaping into the unknown can cost dollars, jobs and result in lack of patient confidence. So what’s the answer? How do healthcare executives make reasonable decisions about the future and protect patients?
There is no question that technology will remain the foundation of future healthcare endeavors; therefore a thorough understanding and investment of sound and long term strategic use of technology must be a vital part of decision making activities.
While physicians will remain the ultimate decider of patient treatment and courses of treatment; the use of non-physician allied providers will play a greater and greater role in patient care. What allied providers to incorporate into a practice (i.e. Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and other trained/certified assistants really depends upon the specialty and the confidence level the physician has in the allied provider.
The role of the PCP (primary Care Physician) will become more important as insurances seek to more actively expand the definition of gatekeeper and mandate wellness policies as a pro-active and vital part of practices.
Home care, home visits and the role of email and texting in patient care is still in it’s infancy; however, the cost savings associated with on-going communication and keeping patients healthy and compliant between visits cannot be contested.
Patient expectations cannot be ignored. Patients have become very savvy concerning their healthcare. They have the internet at their disposal to investigate and learn latest drugs, treatments and alternatives that they willingly embrace. But, in spite of that, simple things like decreased patient wait times, access to providers at their convenience and times, appointment scheduling on line, a well done and maintained web site with access to a patient portal will satisfy most patient expectations.
Financial concerns weigh most practices. Consequently, expertise in accounts receivables, that consistently can manage predictable cash flow, must be thoroughly and consistently be applied. This includes knowledge of and decisions concerning the practice management system. Continuously examining options for efficient use of the system must be a routine practice. Paying attention to aging of accounts, financial arrangements with patients as higher deductibles and co-pays become commonplace require attention and discretion.
While the future of legislation concerning healthcare regulation may continue to be debated; paying attention to the elements of a practice within your control are paramount. Invest in what you know, pay attention to excellence, continue to seek ways to improve healthcare delivery……..this investment will always reap rewards.