Perhaps the best way to describe the last few years is with one word: unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic generated several well-publicized and very significant consequences. Healthcare workers have endured great stress, and many have left healthcare. Video and telephonic care have become more widely accepted. Other less obvious consequences have surfaced including shortages in healthcare staff and demand for higher pay have increased healthcare labor costs. Payers have been mandated to cover COVID-related services which will cause them to look for other savings opportunities like provider pay and pharmacy coverage. The shifting burden of healthcare costs to the consumer seems to be accelerating.
In this article, we examine some of the most consequential ways the healthcare landscape is changing for providers as we turn our attention to 2023 and explore what we can do to prepare.
Decline of Independent Practices
One of the likely consequences of these changes includes fewer small and independent medical practices. Non-physician owned practices are medical practices that are owned by a non-physician entity such as a hospital or corporation. Doctors own fewer practices and non-physician entities own more, since the margins for private practices continue to shrink. Our healthcare system continues to shift toward value-based care, away from revenue value units (RVUs). The danger of non-physician owned practices is that people providing the care will be disconnected from the incentives of better care quality and outcomes at lower cost. This can lead to decreased staff satisfaction and continue to push people away from the direct care roles that are needed so desperately.
Another consequence will likely be the emphasis on home-based care. The recent multi-billion-dollar acquisitions of home-based care companies by Fortune 10 healthcare organizations shows that “big healthcare” is betting on the importance of home care. It is hard to imagine paying a doctor to spend more than half of the day driving to reach patients, so physicians overseeing in-person care providers and using video seem likely solutions. Whether physicians will like working in front of a screen most of the day or overseeing extenders instead of seeing patients themselves will be an important determinant of how these trends evolve.
On the technology front, government entities continue to push interoperability and access to healthcare information. The spirit and intent of these efforts are laudable. We want patients to direct their own healthcare more effectively through increased knowledge of their conditions. We want healthcare workers to have a more comprehensive picture of the patient regardless of where care has been received. However, much of the burden to meet the new requirements will inevitably fall to already overworked healthcare staff. For example, a provider that engages in information blocking, which is preventing a patient from getting their own health information, may be penalized up to one million dollars per instance.
Healthcare Staff Satisfaction
One trend I would love to see in 2023 is an emphasis on the most frequently forgotten aspect of the Quadruple Aim, healthcare staff satisfaction. The Quadruple Aim is the expansion of the Triple Aim (which originally included enhancing patient experience, improving population health, and reducing costs) to include the goal of improving healthcare staff satisfaction.
While a discount at the local pizza place for being a “healthcare hero” is nice, it doesn’t help a nurse look forward to their next shift in the ICU or a doctor feel motivated to encourage behavior change in an uncontrolled diabetic. It is so tempting, as a manager or administrator, to make decisions on behalf of the team. But for healthcare to really advance, people in the trenches need to be heard, listened to, respected, and allowed to guide the important decisions. Otherwise, the exodus of great people from healthcare will continue and great care will be even harder to find.
Supporting Today’s Provider Practices for a Better Tomorrow
At Veradigm, we believe in supporting the needs of today’s healthcare provider practices so they can continue to succeed tomorrow. We work with our clients to help them incorporate tools and services designed to promote the success of independent medical practices. We understand that to thrive financially, practices must be equipped with revenue cycle and practice management solutions that are configurable and interoperable.
The Veradigm Network consists of a powerful and user-friendly suite of interconnected solutions designed to support practices’ financial outcomes and ease administrative burden through more effective and efficient workflows.
Visit veradigm.com to learn more about how the Veradigm Network is helping healthcare provider practices thrive today and into the future.