With a new administration and a significant healthcare evolution underway, 2017 will surely be a year of change in our industry. Here are some of the predictions we’ve seen for the new year that could impact providers and private practices:
- Government mandates will significantly alter healthcare. No one can predict what is ultimately in store for the Affordable Care Act, as the fate of the program is in flux as Congress continues to deliberate, but there is no uncertainty about whether the law will undergo some serious changes. Options for reform to the ACA that are currently being considered include: changing it to a market-based system by removing restrictions that prevent insurance from being sold across state lines, implementing more cost sharing, and increasing age-based variations in premiums. Medicare could also undergo modifications that will likely privatize the system, “so it will be ready for the challenges of the coming retirement of the Baby boom generation.”
- A continued shift towards value-based-care. You’ve probably been hearing a lot about value-based-care. That’s because all the players in the healthcare system know that the “train has left the station” when it comes to value-based care. Driven by the desire to reduce costs and improve quality and outcomes, all employers, health plans, government payers, and consumers now require the healthcare system to deliver on proven value. As part of this shift, doctors who accept Medicare reimbursements are required to start complying with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) as of January 1, 2017. The cost of provider inaction will only continue to mount. The same is true on the commercial side with many commercial payers following the government’s lead with similar value-based arrangements. If you are a physician who hasn’t future-proofed your practice to prepare for the shift in reimbursements, you should do so sooner rather than later. Not being prepared could cost your practice.
- Innovations in healthcare IT that improve access to information. Now that providers are compensated based on patient outcomes, they need to know what is happening to patients outside of their own offices and rely on accurate data that is aggregated from the larger healthcare system. This requires significant integration and technology. Patients, used to the digitalization of records in other industries, are demanding easy access to their personal health information. These pain points will spur the healthcare technology industry to continue to add more sophistication to EMR systems to allow physicians to share, report on, and ensure the confidentiality of data between patients and providers. Read more about these developments at HealthcareITnews.com.
- Patients will drive their own healthcare experiences. Now, patients have begun to expect more services and access to their doctors than ever before. They’re also more vocal about healthcare experiences that don’t live up their expectations on websites like Healthgrades and Yelp. This is creating ripple effects on the healthcare industry, as doctors must recognize their patients as true consumers. In 2017, expect patients to be particularly concerned about easy access to their medical records and their providers. Be on the lookout for a future Privia blog post featuring tips on how to optimize your practice to satisfy the patient-as-consumer.
- Improved Patient Outcomes. This prediction is directly tied to the evolution in healthcare from a sick system to a system of wellness. Since doctors’ reimbursements are now, more than ever, aligned with the value they drive into the health care system, in 2017, doctors will deploy population health programs to interface with their patients more, and come up with comprehensive care plans. These plans and other population health initiatives will emphasize preventative care by encouraging patients with specific diagnoses to give up smoking or just make healthy dietary and lifestyle changes. This proactive wellness approach will lead to a decrease in expensive tests, procedures, medications, and ultimately, hospitalizations.
Are you a healthcare professional with predictions for 2017? We want to hear them! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.