If you haven't had a recent discussion with employees about the importance of patient confidentiality, that would be a good way to start the year. The federal government wants desperately to show the public that electronic health records are secure from snoops and hackers and the feds are salivating for the chance to make an example out of HIPAA violators. Don't let it be you.
7. Healthcare sector employee health and wellness programs. You would think the healthcare sector would be ahead of the curve when it comes to employee health and wellness programs. I have found no evidence that this is the case. There are a lot of great healthcare role models out there, of course, but there appear to be many sluggards as well. This is a movement that will continue to gain momentum as more and more healthcare entities discover that it is cost-efficient and a morale booster.
8. More whistleblower lawsuits. I wrote in July that "all of the pieces are in place for a dramatic crackdown on fraud within the healthcare sector." This will hold true in 2010. We aren't just talking about the store-front, bogus durable medical equipment suppliers in Miami. We are learning every day of established healthcare organizations that are paying enormous fines to settle Medicare/Medicaid fraud allegations raised by whistleblowers.
The government is quite serious about cracking down on fraud. Whistleblowers—and their lawyers—can collect as much as 30% of the value of the settlements, which often are in the millions of dollars. "The more that healthcare fraud waste is in the spotlight, it is going to lead to an increase in employees who see this and decide to bring a whistleblower lawsuit and it's going to urge the plaintiff's bar to be more active as well," says Brian Roark, a partner in the litigation group at Bass, Berry & Sims, a Nashville law firm.
These are just some of the trends I've identified. I sure I've missed a few, so I'd like to hear what you have to say.