Enquirer - Opinion Column
By: John Dubis
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Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act will be upheld.
This may have a political impact in November’s election but physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers know that changes in healthcare delivery will move forward regardless of politics or Supreme Court decisions.
Lower reimbursements, rising healthcare costs, an aging and sicker population, and new technology are all reasons why we are not sitting and waiting on direction from Washington. We are already changing to meet the needs of our patients, our physicians, our employees and the communities in which we serve.
Individuals in our region have asked me, “What will change? How will the changes affect me? How will I get medical care?” These questions seem simple and deserve a clear answer. The heightened rhetoric of presidential campaigns and Congressional debates does not help in this regard. Healthcare issues are complex and really depend on everyone’s individual situation.
While no one can clearly outline exactly what will occur, here is what most healthcare leaders believe. Systems are moving away from the current fee-for-service model of healthcare reimbursement and moving toward a payment system that incentivizes both the patient and healthcare providers for staying healthy. We are already doing this at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, through arrangements with health insurance companies that base a portion of our reimbursement on quality and patient satisfaction outcomes. Many insurance companies have also confirmed this type of positive change is likely to continue, regardless of this outcome from the Supreme Court.
We remain committed to transitioning the focus of our healthcare delivery not only to current health problems, but to focus on prevention, wellness and the management of chronic diseases, so that costly hospital stays are minimized. For this to work, we are:
- Investing in the technologies – both information and clinical – which allow us to deliver seamless care to patients. For example, we are using the same electronic medical record system within all of our hospitals, physician offices and outpatient clinics, which reduces errors, keeps patients safer, avoids duplication of services and increases patient satisfaction.
- Seeking closer alignments with physicians. Integrated healthcare delivery is better for the patient, as it provides more coordinated care among primary care, specialists, hospitals and outpatient clinics. This improves communication across healthcare providers by providing a more complete view of a patient’s health history.
- Transitioning all of our primary care offices to patient-centered medical homes, which means patients will now have the ability to get an appointment the same day they are not feeling well, and they have an integrated care team to educate them about health issues they are facing.
- Investing in technology, physicians and facilities to tackle the region’s biggest health issues – including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Progressive, patient-centered healthcare organizations across the country are already making needed changes for their own community and will continue to do so, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling, election results or what Congress decides.