2.EHRS. Meaningful use tops the list of healthcare industry challenges in 2011, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report. How are physicians going to fare with electronic medical records? Are they -- or enough of them -- going to join the ranks of the modern era and get moving digitally, or will they fall behind?
Instead of going forward with electronic health records, some will get out of the business altogether. But many physicians on the fence should follow the example of Anne Brooks, DO, a 72-old physician in rural Mississippi told me she would do "whatever it takes to improve the quality of life for my community," even if it means embracing electronic records. As I write this, let me remind you that CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced that registration will begin January 3 for eligible providers hoping to participate in the Medicare electronic health record incentive program.
3.Impact of Primary Care Shortages. Against the backdrop of the primary care shortage, the soothsayers, pundits, and other prognosticators are saying definitely there will be an increase in mergers among physicians and medical group practices; it's starting already. In the meantime, the shortage of primary care physicians is threatening prospects for new healthcare models. To wit: the Medical Home Model.
As my colleague, John Commins, wrote in November, " Shifting specialists' routine followup care to primary care physicians in a medical home model under the new federal healthcare reforms could save time, money and free specialists for more complex patient care. However, the lack of primary care physicians could make such a policy difficult to implement, Commins writes, describing a new study by the University of Michigan Health System." The reason? Redistributing half of the routine follow-up care for patients with common chronic conditions, "would require either thousands of new primary car doctors or an extra three weeks of work a year form the primary care physicians in the current work force. Either way, good luck.
4.Accountable Care Organizations. Talking about the New Year and not mentioning ACOs, is like whistling Auld Ang Syne, and not saying Happy New Year in the next breath. So many in healthcare are soooooooooooooooo excited about the prospects of ACOs, and for the most part, rightfully so. Anything involving large organizations however, needs some caveats to keep us all grounded.
As PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in its predictions for 2011, "while ACOs hold great promise for reduced costs and improved quality, the challenge will be keeping people in the ACO and engaging them to stay health, which could be the difference between profit and losses."