Embracing the Transformational Moments in Healthcare

September 30, 2013

Whether the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, or the Stage 2 rules for meaningful use, look at these changes as opportunities, not obstacles.

The news coverage over the past week has reminded the consuming public that we are on the cusp of the next rollout of the Affordable Care Act. While we can argue around the validity or the basis of such an act, the fact remains that it is the law of the land and both consumers and providers alike have to alter their mentality to apply the necessary elements to the law.

The majority of you are probably thinking: the Affordable Care Act essentially carries very little shock factor when it is compared to ICD-10 or the Stage 2 requirements for meaningful use. You won’t see the same virility on news outlets or out front of public offices on the latter two issues. You won’t even see it trending on Twitter. The fact of the matter is that these forthcoming compliance regulations represent change that is the latest impact and business-defining moment for practices.

How will you be defining your practice through the next year of change?

It’s easier said than done, but take this challenging moment in time and make it transformational for your practice. I say this from the position of an entrepreneur and a CEO who has seen evolutionary moments like this create great opportunities out of paralyzing difficulties. While the idea of "forced change" does not come off as enticing to anyone, this moment is a chance to truly transform your practice into the embodiment of a well-oiled machine.

Are you assigning roles and defining responsibilities?

In my previous blog post I highlighted that the appeal of the status quo is an enticing way to be mired on the opposite road of success. If the practice is to be set up in the short- and long-term for operational success, each role within the personnel infrastructure must be redefined to fit in a unified puzzle. Will that cause friction? Undoubtedly it will, but the main goal remains to get everyone on the same page and moving forward.

Is that a cloud nine approach to medical practices? Sure, it might be, but the road to change is always filled with hopes and opportunities. Companies like Apple were not selling millions of iPhones without a number of bumps in the road along the way. While we all can’t be the world’s leading consumer electronics retailer, we can have aspirations to represent the best in our business - combining exceptional patient care with operational success.

Do you consider existing trends when creating business plans?

Perhaps the real question here is whether business plans are actually used (and updated) by practices on a quarterly or annual basis? While it may sound unrealistic at face value to apply business measurement to a medical practice, a business plan is necessary in order to avoid the dreaded "cut-first" mentality. We’ve all been there. Personnel are seen as variable capital, and the loss of benefits and salary seems to be the solution to all external ills. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The challenges of new codes into the system, along with reducing incentives tied to meaningful use, should be seen as a moment to create an agile practice. In fact, I have learned that you never waste a crisis or a maddening challenge to accomplish something extraordinary.

When was the last time that you asked yourself, "What opportunities do I have available to create evolutionary shifts within my practice?" If you are like other providers, you have countless other worries and pressures (even on top of providing day-to-day patient care) that are more short-term geared than evolutionary elements designed for sustained growth and success.

Let’s face it, business introspection, no matter which industry in which one practices, is a challenge. Pressures will always be present in the landscape, and the only question is how to turn the winds of change into forward-moving evolvement. Each practice has its own path to success, and you should understand where the hidden benefits are within ICD-10 and the Stage 2 requirements of meaningful use for long-term success.