Changing from a fee-for-service model to value-based healthcare is a challenge facing numerous practices and healthcare facilities across the country. While larger networks may have the capital or flexibility to adopt this new paradigm without major hiccups, the same may not be true for smaller hospitals or individual institutions. According to Health Catalyst, the transition between the two models will inevitably see a a period of time where revenue streams are unclear or in limbo.
As a healthcare provider, integrating value-based payment paradigms into your practice will have long-term benefits, even if there is a difficult implementation period. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that value-based care and insurance models improve efficiency and lower superfluous costs, while also empowering patients by lowering barriers to receiving care.
The process of implementing these changes may be challenging, but here are a few ways you and your practice can be make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Eliminate waste
Because value-based care models are interested in maximizing operations while reigning in heavy expenses, hospitals and care centers should look for areas where costs can be cut. Health Catalyst stated that working toward making your practice work smarter and more efficiently is a way to improve your bottom line.
“Hospitals and care centers should look for areas where costs can be cut.”
Each medical facility is different, and there can be many unique places where costs may be cut or certain policies improved. For example, electronic health records are a means of reducing unnecessary orders and tests, as well as cutting back on administrative supply costs. Investing in internal software that is fully interoperable with other practices is a way to bring in outside data about individual patients or specific disorders and come up with appropriate best practices.
There may be more obvious areas where your practice can improve productivity, and these small measures can add up to lower your overall operating costs. As a result, you may be able to offer treatment at a more competitive rate or with more profitable margins.
2. Increase patient engagement
The trade publication For The Record reported that improving communication between physicians and patients is also important for creating better outcomes and lowering costs. Patient engagement is a way to monitor the success of treatment plans and develop personalized strategies for chronic conditions. Your patients may also feel better looked after and report higher levels of satisfaction through more channels of communication, such as email or text alerts.
For the Record also stated that patient engagement can promote proactive, responsible behavior in individuals, which is critical for minimizing repeat visits, as well as catching issues before they warrant a trip to the emergency room. Increasing communication and support systems for your practice’s patients is not an expensive pursuit according to For The Record, and is a good way to lower costs across the board by reducing the number of expensive or redundant procedures.
3. Prepare for older patients
For many practices, the transition to value-based care will coincide with any aging Baby Boomer population and reduced reimbursement rates. Health Catalyst reported that this will put extra stress on healthcare providers trying to re-tool finances. For that reason, preparing for this trend is important.
As American adults reach old age, Medicare expenses will continue to expand. Medicaid is also growing at a high rate, and for this reason, there are more and more patients that will require treatment that comes with slim margins for hospitals and medical practices.
4. Integrate new patients
Fortunately for healthcare providers, there are opportunities to bring in new patients alongside the Baby Boomers. Lowering costs is a way to attract extra business for your practice, and with the Affordable Care Act, more Americans are seeking treatment than ever before. Health Catalyst stated that integrating new patients into your practice will boost visibility and your reputation in the community. As a result, employers and payers will be more inclined to include you in their networks.
5. Make sense of internal data
According to the Harvard Business Review, the transition to value-based care can in fact be very difficult in the interim, and ultimately each practice will have to decide on its own where and how costs can be reduced and cash flows can be made more sustainable. Leveraging new technology capabilities and patient management software can uncover helpful data to build a plan of action. The HBR reported that practices that transitioned to value-based care models were able to succeed by using data to eliminate costs and find areas of improvement.
Providing high-quality but affordable care was ultimately beneficial to providers’ bottom lines, while adherence to older models resulted in financial losses and public relations issues. Managing the risk associated with such a transition may be difficult at first, but the benefits hold true in the end.