Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Could Obamacare Fail?

How Obamacare Could Fail

One of my non-scientific methods of gauging the current state of the health care system is by the requests I receive for writing and editing.

For example, I have recently received four requests to write about failed electronic medical records systems (no surprise there).  Others include the progress of accountable care organizations (ACOs), the future economics of physician groups, compensation models for physicians, hospital/physician relations and new regulatory issues for nursing homes.

So all of this gets me thinking; what could happen to create a catastrophic failure of Obamacare?  My thoughts….

Accountable Care Organizations:  ACOs could fail to work as hoped by the feds, this could collapse the foundations of Obamacare

Failed integration efforts: hospitals and systems are integrating multiple services, creating much larger and much more complex organizations, not  all of them will work

Exchanges:  the shopping experience becomes a confusing mess (high probability IMHO)

Payment Innovations:  innovations such as fee bundling fail to be feasible

Employer meltdown:  employers engage in wholesale dumping to the exchanges (not impossible in such a weak economy)

So, what are the odds of catastrophic failure?  50% - 50% in my opinion.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

BYOD ...... BYOD?


Bring Your Own ???   Device!

Smart phones, netbooks, tablet computers - never before has such processing speed and huge storage capability been available in such small packages.

Many physicians and practice staff members are bringing their own devices to work, and filling those devices with all sorts of practice data.

Which creates problem.

HIPAA privacy. HIPAA security. Both can be easily compromised.

Practices must set policies and procedures designed to control the transfer and use of PHI.

Practices must set policies and procedures  to control the use of phone cameras.

Practices must be worried about HIPAA privacy and HIPAA security.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

EMR - Salvation or Meltdown?

In the past we have predicted the EMR focus of the Obama administration might not work as well as intended. Sadly, and many billions of dollars later, I may be correct.

(The New York Times has run many pieces on this, the latest on the hard copy business page on 1/11/2013.)

And next year we make the ICD-10 conversation, sort of throwing gasoline on a raging fire.

There are a multitude of problems:

Too many vendor systems, making EMR to EHR linkages difficult

Crazy long and complex federal regulations

The input devices irritate physicians and disrupt the flow of the office practice

Medicare thinks EMRs are inflating billings, due to text cloning and auto-coding

The hospital and nursing home systems are often distractions to nurses

Going totally paperless is largely a myth so far

HIPAA security issues abound

So where will EMRs work? Based on recent observations perhaps in very large integrated systems where every provider is on the same system, although some of the front line personnel are singing the same sad songs as others.

E-prescribing may be one area with some success.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review

There has been a lot of buzz about a book published on September 18th.

UNACCOUNTABLE: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care by Marty Makary, MD

This is an important book because in plain English it discloses much of what is wrong with clinical medicine today.

The dirtiest secret: physicians and hospital administrators protect incompetent and volatile physicians.

If you have any interest in health care policy read this book. FWIW, finding the problems is easier than finding the solutions.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

IOM Recommendations

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) an influential organization long known for criticizing health care providers and advocating reform, has issued process recommendations for deciding the "essentials" of health insurance plans. An essentials list is required by DHHS by 2014 for all health plans available on the state health exchanges. The essentials should balance quality of care with projected premium costs.

PPACA does specify ten (10) broad areas of coverage, but not a specific plan menu.

The IOM study was a disappointment to some because it did not specify benefits, as this would have been a good discussion starter and would have given DHHS some political cover. The IOM focused on an approach to making the decision, and it is to start with costs and then work into benefits.

IOM also suggested an annual review of the programs beginning in 2016, and some waiver flexibility for states to customize plans.

Not exciting, but very very important.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Major Reform Proposal - Bundling

PPACA (Obamacare) included initiatives to create "bundled payment" plans for Medicare (which would likely encouraged bundled payment for other payers as well).

This week the CMS Innovation Center issued directives encouraging creation of four (4) models of bundling services.

Rather than paying for quantity of services, Medicare wants to pay for quality and outcomes (this can become problematic in elder care).

This could be one PPACA initiative that actually brings some significant results, or the bureaucrats could bungle it. Time will tell. For now providers are on board or even ahead of CMS, racing to get ahead of the changing revenue cycle.

There are significant business complications in making this shift, so we do not expect quick progress or instant success.