From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Why 2022 Will Be The Change Year in Healthcare
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground”. -Wilferd Peterson
When it comes to our work lives, the first month of a new year is usually charged with intellectual energy: we find the zeal to assess our shortcomings and set resolutions. For healthcare professionals, this is a time that calls for extraordinary courage in the face of our ongoing COVID threat. Why? 2022 presents a unique, maybe once in a lifetime, opportunity for the industry to put its full imaginative capacity to work. How do we do it? By planning and doing. Transformation is all around us—the democratization of data movement is pushing broader decision making power into the hands of specialists and patients. There’s increased urgency to find new and creative payment options as healthcare costs push ever higher. As we make our resolutions at Health Here, we’re taking extra time for forecasting. In the spirit of collaboration, we’ve shared a few of our predictions for the year below. As you read, we hope the creative energy sparked by a new year boosts your tired spirit, as it has ours.
The Most Bang For Your Buck
Further federal mandates on cost transparency went into effect on January 1st, requiring cost estimates up front for an expanded list of medical services. This regulation presents an opportunity for private practices to differentiate from health systems by presenting their costs in a more patient-friendly manner. Also, many independent surgeons will have the added benefit of being able to offer lower costs as more care moves outside of hospitals and into outpatient settings. (An Aspen, Colorado based hospital put a number on the transition, citing an expected 70% decrease in their revenue due to this migration.) Lower bills and upfront quotes are a win-win situation: patients will have more upfront cost clarity and no longer receive surprise bills, while practices can improve their collection rates by expanding their pre-payment options.
Tightening the Inner Circle
We also expect continued growth in direct payment arrangements between employers and specialist providers. As independent providers seek to bolster their independence from hospital systems, doctors and employers are negotiating rates directly, a change that opens up the possibility for more cost clarity and a reduction in administrative costs. Employers will increasingly be onboard for this direct connection after years of paying high fees for lackluster outcomes. Digital innovation will continue to accelerate in this space as employers and providers seek ways to automate and streamline these connections.
Winning the Popularity Contest
As we move in fits-and-starts towards a healthcare system with more cost clarity and a greater focus on outcomes, we expect to see specialists transition toward what we call a “fee for value” payment model. In this system, patients and payers will have more transparency into costs and expected outcomes, while providers will have better defined ways to demonstrate the appropriateness of their medical services. In this model, who are the most popular kids in class? Independent practices that function in harmony with the surrounding community. Healthy societies require open, cooperative relationships between doctors and their constituents. This is the ultimate end goal we are all striving towards in 2022. Whatever your role–patient, employer or provider–your work and belief in what’s best for the collective is what will make this a year for the history books.