The coming year promises to be one in which the healthcare reform initiatives (that collection of programs and acronyms which would make FDR proud) continue to dominate both the national discussion and your everyday operations.
Meaningful Use (MU) will continue to drive changes in physician practices from documentation with computerized physician order entry (CPOE) to the exchange of information with e-prescribing and health information exchanges (HIE). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) along with other Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) initiatives will transform reimbursement policy. And, of course, preparations for the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Tenth Revision (ICD-10) will ramp up and loom large as practices learn to code their services in a far more precise and granular manner.
It’s really an exciting time in healthcare, given all of the reform and other legislation aimed at improving patient care quality and lowering costs. Technology is obviously an important enabling component since it sets the foundation for the comprehensive data exchange and analysis that leads to broader reform goals like care coordination.
Integration is another key theme throughout these initiatives—whether in regard to data or clinical care. What this means is that 2013 should be a year for examining existing technology solutions carefully. If you haven’t already done so, you may need to plan or implement upgrades to support data processing requirements and accommodate a higher level of sophistication.
You may want to approach your EHR and other clinical IT system vendors first to talk about timelines, processes and plans for any new upgrades designed to accommodate integration efforts, regulatory changes and implementations. Understanding how clinical systems will be affected can then help inform discussions with all other IT vendors.
Overall, practices must ensure that electronic health records (EHRs), practice management systems, billing solutions and other technologies are ready to take advantage of the many benefits—and some challenges—MU, PPACA, ACOs, VBP, and ICD-10 have to offer—in both 2013 and the years to come. What challenges will your practice face in the coming year? How are you planning to address them?