5 Issues Healthcare Providers Care About for 2013

Gurney zooming down corridor

It seems everyone is talking about the top 2013 issues in healthcare, but the discussion among pundits is all over the place. A search for “top issues in healthcare” generates pages (and pages) of results. Here are just a few reports published already this year (as of March 10, 2013):

Do the Issues Overlap? Reports Say “Yes”

Combing through the lists made me wonder how much overlap — if any — there might be for the respective healthcare areas. Do physicians, dentists, chiropractors, hospitals, imaging centers and laboratories share typical issues? For some, the answer is “yes.” Here are five common concerns:

    • Widespread uncertainty about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPCA) and its effects on patient coverage. Expected increases in patient-to-physician ratios add to the unease. This includes primary providers as well as ancillary services like laboratories, imaging centers, pharmacies and durable medical suppliers.
    • Increased regulatory and administrative requirements for Medicare/Medicaid, EHR, ICD-9 to 10 implementation. This will affect most healthcare and insurance providers, one way or another.
    • The Electronic Records healthcare Act and:
      • Meeting stage II deadlines for compliance to allow care providers to take advantage of incentives that will help them offset costs for b. and c., next.
      • Changing infrastructure needs for older systems. Costly upgrades may be necessary just to handle the  influx of records for the anticipated increase in the number of patients covered by the PPCA.
      • Increasing record-keeping requirements for patients due to EHR Act requirements, which could strain existing staff and require adding personnel.
    • Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Meaningful Use Requirements for providers who accept Medicare and/or Medicaid payments, except for dental[i] and chiropractic[ii] practices that meet certain conditions and/or others who can get a deferment. To receive incentives, certain requirements like e-prescribing, exchanging information electronically and implementing clinical quality measures are required.
    • Decisions about practice consolidation is a top-of-mind issue for direct patient care providers across the spectrum, including chiropractic, dental and medical practices. Many experts assert that practice consolidations are in the cards for caregivers who need to leverage IT systems and maximize support personnel.

Outside of those five topics, other areas of concern include mobile technology and security, various technology-related issues about medical devices and patient screenings, and general patient safety. Some issues may not have a clear path to resolution until more is understood about the effects brought on by the upcoming regulatory changes during this year and the next. Until then, it’s going to be “interesting times” in healthcare.

 [i] Deferred from the MU if the dentist does not provide immunizations. [ii] Deferred. Chiropractors do not e-prescribe.

Diana Ost is a consulting deputy editor for Tech Page One at Dell. Prior to this gig, Diana wrote web copy for Dell.com. Diana has over ten years’ of healthcare experience in varied roles, with the most recent being two tours as business analyst at the US Department of Veterans Affairs,Veterans Health Administration at Bay Pines, FL, where she worked on ICD code translation, Spinal Cord Injury software and the Single Sign On (CORE) projects. Diana’s writing has appeared on Inside Enterprise IT, Forbes, Direct2Dell and Dell World. Follow Diana on Twitter @DianaAtDell.

Tags: Business,Healthcare,Technology