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Yes, It's Complicated, and Yes, You Still Have To Pay Attention

October 17, 2009
by Mark Hagland
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Average laypeople from outside the healthcare industry could be forgiven for short attention spans when it comes to the incredibly complex process taking place these days around federal healthcare reform legislation. The whole process is so multi-faceted and so complicated that it's no wonder average citizens are baffled. And the fact that the mainstream media continue often to focus on the more superficial and political aspects of the process adds to the exhaustion factor for the general public. But for those of us inside the healthcare industry, there simply is no excuse not to keep abreast of developments, as trying as it might feel at times. As was reinforced for me in the interview I did earlier this week with Blair Childs of Premier Inc. (see the web-exclusive interviews on this website), there is a tremendous amount going on below the level of newspaper and broadcast headlines, inside the healthcare reform universe, and a huge amount of that will profoundly impact hospital organizations nationwide. Among the proposed elements that could soon become law are value-based purchasing under Medicare; bundled payments for hospitals and other providers; and such innovations as "accountable care groups." And while many of these proposed elements still have yet to be fleshed out, here's the bottom line on them collectively: below the level of debate over health insurance reform issues such as a public option or an individual mandate, there's a tremendous level of bipartisan support in Congress for reimbursement reform, as I've mentioned in several recent articles. And that reimbursement reform could, far sooner than many might think, affect your hospital organization. So it behooves all of us to pay attention, even when it might seem more like an intrusion on our already-overloaded professional plates. Because, sooner than you can say "Medicare mandate," some of those innovations may be the law of the land.



I must admit to being overwhelmed. A top ten list of the "done deals" and maybe a top ten of "probables" would be helpful. Links would be great and could save a lot of typing. It is not that I am lazy, it is just so hard to ferret out an understandable outline of what lay ahead.

Mark, that was very well said. Which raises the question, how do you recommend the hospital executive keep up? Beyond the HCI articles and your wonderful books, of course.

In my recent blog, Epic Career Changes, I spent about a quarter of the time in the attached presentation on "learning fast in tough times." I pointed out that there are amazingly efficient sources like Anthony's recent VIDEO BLOG, and comparable experts with relatively brief and to-the-point analysis available, for free, for the looking. But, we absolutely need social network contributors, like you, to direct us. So, what are your top ten favorite sources? (I'll reciprocate, but you go first!)

Thanks for your wonderful comments! In terms of ways to keep up, rather than listing 10 favorite sources, what I'll say is that healthcare executives need to avail themselves of all available digest-like news feeds that provide policy and business development updates, because things are moving too fast on too many fronts for any one source to bring everything to their attention. Of course, they should read Healthcare Informatics and come to our website, and get our newsletter, first and foremost! :-) But the reality is that keeping up across healthcare, and yes, beyond it (!), will be more and more crucial going forward.

A key point I'm sure you understood in my post is that, while we all may feel overwhelmed some of the time (or even a lot of the time!), that's no excuse not to pay attention to developments that could affect us. As I mentioned, value-based purchasing and bundled payments are concepts with tremendous bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, so the chances that they will become reality are overwhelming.

I would add that, though I recommend that healthcare executives subscribe to all the various newsfeeds available to them, that doesn't mean they have to invest tremendous amounts of time going through them all. Sometimes, quick scanning is not only justifiable, it's the only practical option. :-) Thanks again for your comments!