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Sweeping Changes Come to Healthcare in 2020: Is Your Practice Ready?

In my role as a healthcare change management speaker, I often speak about how the year 2020 foreshadows an acceleration of change to many group practices. I am particularly interested in the ACOs, or accountable care organizations.

In the strictest definition, “ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their Medicare patients.”

We all know it is much more than that. It reflects a commitment to greater synchronized care and avoidance of duplication of efforts. Ultimately the ACO reflects a determination to prevent medical errors.

In his look-ahead for the healthcare industry (“Top 10 Health Care Industry Predictions For The Year 2020”), Sachin Jain, Forbes magazine, May 2019, states: “The balance of power will begin to shift from hospital systems back to physician groups. All around the country, physician groups who face acquisition by hospital systems are looking for an alternative…within specific specialties, such as oncology and cardiology, private equity companies are beginning to roll up provider groups to drive performance, negotiate more favorable contracts, and leverage purchasing power.”

Naturally, the formation of ACOs, while ultimately enabling patients to receive high-quality care, are not without their challenges. Change brings new processes to the office along with new technologies. The use of contractors to create ACOs within practices is hardly done for free. The venture-backed companies demand a return on their investment in your practice as well.

The Broader Picture

The year ahead is obviously not about ACOs alone. We can all expect to see several other trends intensify this year. One important change is a continuing shift back to home-based care as an alternative to expensive hospital stays.

For example, Lauren Hardin, MSN, RN, writing for JAMA (August 13, 2019), talks of an expanded use of RNs, paramedics and EMTs to evaluate patients on an in-home demand-basis. Hardin illustrated this by offering an example in Louisiana:

“In Louisiana, for example, a new service…allows patients and their families to quickly request health care in their homes through the use of an app—much like an Uber app—that connects them to an on-demand network of nurses, EMTs, and paramedics. They also follow patients with complex health and social needs in their homes to prevent emergencies and hospitalizations.”

This shift, in turn, will force changes in the way responders are being reimbursed but overall the advantage is greater patient comfort and decreased anxiety. Overall, it lowers the burden on the medical system.

Experts also predict that in 2020, there will be an ever-greater interest on the part of the public to examine the behaviors of the healthcare industry. Certainly, the exposing of the practices in some of the more nefarious pricing behaviors of the pharmaceutical industry, plus the debates over the Affordable Care Act, clearly signaled a new era in healthcare consumerism.  There is a shift, though perhaps decades late, that is similar to the consumer shift from buyer beware to seller beware. Anyone who has ever used Amazon.com or Yelp.com will understand the new power of the consumer.

In 2020, it will take the determination of the healthcare industry to address the shifts in front of them and the vision to respond to the challenges. No organization, hospital or practice will be able to avoid the new trends. Those who have the daily grit to address the needed changes will be the major winners.

 

 

To hire Scott Burrows, Healthcare Industry Motivational and Change Management Speaker for your next meeting, connect with his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169