Published - January 2012
FROM THE ROAD
By Dave Jakielo
Predications for 2012 and Beyond
My business of speaking and consulting usually has me on an airplane at least every other week. The downside is the unpredictability of airline schedules; it seems that a flights posted departure time is just a suggestion not a commitment from the airlines.
While travel is sometimes a hassle it also has an upside. The hours spent either waiting for a flight or actually flying can be put to good use and it allows me to read or listen to books, magazines, podcasts, etc.
Today, information is so readily available that staying current with what is happening in all facets of healthcare is much easier than it was on a few years ago. Additionally, spending time in companies talking with people at every level of an organization gives me further insights into what is occurring in a particular region. We all know healthcare is regional.
So between my extensive reading and experiencing first-hand what has been taking place in healthcare this past year, it leads me to my predictions. My thoughts are based on trends that are already occurring somewhere in the nation and maybe coming to a neighborhood close to you, too.
There will be less and less physicians in solo practices due to rising costs and the fact that doctors coming out of medical school cannot obtain money from financial institutions to start up a practice.
More doctors will either merge with other practices or become employees of hospitals. Again, the unpredictability of what looms in the healthcare reimbursement arena has many physicians concerned about the future and feel that a guaranteed salary is a safer bet. Plus, many would rather adopt anothers' practices EMR than go through the process of implementing one from scratch in their current practice.
FEE FOR SERVICE
It's not that anyone has it out for doctors; it's a pure numbers game. We currently have around 40 million folks on the Medicare rolls and within the next 15 years that number will explode to 100 million. Given the increase, another method of paying for services will have to come into existence. The "more you do the more you make" model is not sustainable.
Even if Accountable Care Organizations (ACO's) do not become prevalent, some bundled payment system will have to come into play. Another option is that hospital based physicians could become salaried once again like in the 1980's and Part B billing for them would simply go away.
MEDICAL BILLING SOFTWARE COMPANIES BECOME COMPETITORS
There are already over a half of dozen software vendors who have purchased or started up a billing company and this trend will continue. Why this is occurring is simple. They are attracted to the recurring revenue stream of medical billing revenue versus relying on -- I must continue to sell, sell, sell a product to obtain revenue.
Given this trend, it's imperative that you check your software agreement and ensure that it contains a clause, or if it doesn't, add an addendum, which they cannot offer billing services to one of your current clients for up to 24 months in the event that client would leave your company.
NON MEDICARE SERVICES WILL DECLINE
As healthcare premiums continue to rise by double digits every year, personal deductibles will continue to escalate. Many deductibles today are running $5,000 or higher thereby causing people to think twice before seeking medical care. The annual physical is becoming the every two or three year physical. Rather than running to the doctor with every ache and pain, we now give it a day or two to see if it goes away on it's own.
Non Medicare patients are more likely to seek medical care at one of the new clinics that are sprouting like weeds in chain pharmacies, retail stores, etc. Patients figure that if I have to pay for services anyway I'll go where it's convenient and timely versus calling their doctor and waiting days for an appointment.
So above are some of my predictions for 2012 but, while you may consider them to be threats, others are embracing the facts and looking at the future as a huge opportunity to dramatically grow their businesses.
The choice is yours. Be fearful of the future and slowly fade away or embrace the future and become a bigger and stronger company.
Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an International Speaker, Consultant, Executive Coach, and Author, and is President of Seminars & Consulting. Dave has been helping companies improve their profitability for over four decades. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at www.Davespeaks.com. Dave can be reached via email Dave@Davespeaks.com; phone 412-921-0976.