Do you remember when 2014 was months and years off in the future? How about the calls for preparation that have since evolved into action?
I strongly believe that we are on the cusp of a dangerous deadline where many practices will have the realization of change hit them straight between the eyes without perceived notice. The result is not going to be pretty. Imagine thousands of practices scrambling to attend to their business needs, while trying with all their might to provide as best of care to patients as possible. That just seems impossible when spelled out.
Let’s face it — today’s practices potentially work harder than ever, and yet get less in return. That’s a raw deal. If you think taking a $10 bill to a gas station will get you anything meaningful today, then you must be of the same rationale that less is more — well, it isn’t.
I’ve made a personal effort to speak with as many of our practices as possible, and I hear the same thing. Meaningful use and ICD-10 are important to them, but the biggest crunch is coming from both the insurers and decreased reimbursements from Medicare. Those are real challenges that have an impact on the bottom line and on allocated resources.
I believe that the year 2014 is an absolute tipping point for the independent practice that is looking to make it to 2015 and beyond in a strong position. I have some simple rules that will help make that belief into a reality:
1. Don’t let delays distract you. Move forward as if each CMS-related deadline is permanent.
2. Understand your business acumen resources. These resources might come from partnerships or even consultants. Bottom line: Your best resources may not be in the practice walls.
3. Create an actual business strategic plan. Medical practices are businesses at their very core and need to act and plan in a similar fashion.
4. Look at the 2014 milestones as part of a larger transition plan. While this year’s changes may come across as insurmountable, they will only be larger and more challenging down the road if you fail to give them the proper attention.
5. Think of how the patient will be impacted at all moments. Though most of these strategies are business related, you are in a performance-based business where patient care is of the upmost importance.