South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday October 23, 2018
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September 2010 - Volume 7 - Issue 3

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Healthcare Reform and Health Information Technology

Healthcare reform will change the way healthcare is delivered by changing the way providers are paid for their services. As you know, there is a consensus that the American healthcare system is fragmented, that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, that tests are duplicated and that payment is made for services with little attention to outcomes. Healthcare reform is presented in the press as new, but for many years there has been an effort underway to restructure the way in which healthcare is delivered in America.

The plan is to elevate the role of the primary care provider as the central coordinator of care, thereby creating a medical home for the patient. Next, we will see bundled payments where Medicare and other payers will reimburse a group of providers for an episode of care, as opposed to paying several disconnected providers for fragmented services. Managed care did not really accomplish coordinated care and continued the fragmented system of independent contractors and really did not care about outcomes - just cutting costs.
 
The changes underway are designed to bring about better coordination of care, a team approach and collective responsibility for outcomes. This represents a sea change in the culture of medicine which will force independent practitioners to better work together. Most people will agree that, in concept, this is better. However, as with managed care, what may seem good in concept is not always good in implementation, especially when it involves politics and government.
 
Underlying healthcare reform is the push for electronic medical records (“EMR”) and the development of health information exchanges (“HIEs”). EMRs will improve the efficiency of healthcare providers and facilitate the coordination of care. EMRs will also facilitate measurement and payment for outcomes. After EMRs are in place, we will begin linking them through HIEs which will allow hospitals, physicians and other providers to share information on the same patient. This will be a great leap forward in the creation of a more coordinated system of care. This is also the infrastructure required for the payment reforms discussed above.
 
The Health Network of the Palm Beaches is creating an HIE which will satisfy many requirements of “meaningful use” and help providers qualify for federal support of their health information technology. I encourage you to get on board, adapt, survive and maybe even prosper.
Timothy E. Monaghan, MBA, JD, is a healthcare law attorney in Palm Beach County, FL, who practices business and regulatory healthcare law with the firm of Strawn, Monaghan & Metzger, P.A. He is also Chairman, Health Network of the Palm Beaches. He can be reached at (561) 278-9400 or visit www.healthandbusinesslaw.com.  
 
© 2010 Strawn Monaghan & Metzger, P.A. All rights reserved. Republication with attribution is permitted.
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