As guest and panelist of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association on April 14, 2011, I had the privilege of participating in a lively discussion. The session entitled: “Healthcare Reform and the Cost of EHR” included the following highlights from my presentation that I would like to share.
For medical practices of all sizes the journey of incremental change in the context of healthcare reform and electronic health records (EHR) has only begun to take shape. New business models for delivering medical care and reporting for patient outcomes and predictive models are goals that have both short and long-term implications. First, new business models of care are a conversation for many practices as they determine how to navigate the possibilities of collaboration with consideration for the competitive landscape as well. Second, reporting for patient outcomes and predictive models are being facilitated to some extent by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS’) EHR Meaningful Use stage 1 criteria for structured data. However, a robust realization of an enhanced patient experience will be driven by both collaboration strategies and knowledge management among a variety of providers.
The commitment for all concerned in the delivery of healthcare demands a culture of both proactive behaviors and change management. Although many of the changes are incremental, as with the adoption and use of EHR and their ongoing enhancements, the rate of change is rapid. The rate of change will continue to have an impact on privacy and security of information within the healthcare industry and therefore must be a consistent part of the business strategy, technology strategy, and codes of conduct. Consider the impact that an EHR vendor can have on a medical practice with regard to business strategy, delivering care on a daily basis, business risk, and cash flow.
At least for some medical providers, challenge may also bring opportunity. Healthcare reform, with its many uncertainties, will certainly have an impact on the importance of knowing the cost to provide every service and then measuring reimbursements for care. The question many will have to ask is: How do I develop and sustain a competitive advantage in a climate of capitated payments? Answers to this question include factors such as: finding a niche, productivity of people, appropriateness of EHR (and other technologies) for the business purpose, integration, and vendor accountability. Collaboration of both people and technology must displace the climate of fragmentation within the delivery of medical care in many ways to realize the benefits of improved patient care while controlling costs.
Here is a link to the full presentation: Healthcare Information Technology: Collaboration, Competition & Outcomes