Published on January 03, 2014

Industry trends will create opportunity in health system

Colleen Michele Jones,The Jacksonville Business Journal

Even as last-minute details related to the implementation of Obamacare are hammered out, one thing is sure: Healthcare reform is on the horizon, and it’s very much on the minds of industry executives across Northeast Florida.

We asked officials to look into their proverbial crystal balls for what trends the medical community might expect to see in 2014.

Their answers were not surprising. The impacts of the Affordable Care Act on the way healthcare facilities do business will be many and far-reaching. Changes to insurance will largely affect the bottom lines of medical centers here and across the nation.

Among the other trends health organizations are seeing are bundled payment options that streamline costs and paperwork for patients undergoing certain multiple-step treatments; expanding technologies such as “electronic consulting,” saving some patients at home a trip to the hospital; and emergency rooms competing for business by offering a “wait-at-home” option and estimates of the time it will take to be seen by a doctor.

Bill Rupp, CEO of Mayo Clinic Florida, said that with a “still sluggish economic recovery” patients are opting for fewer non-emergency procedures.

In addition, Rupp said, “Almost half of the patients we see are on Medicare, and that’s because of the aging of the population.”

Rupp added that, at the same time, “We see some real opportunities. We have a very integrated model of care that I think will be copied by others [in the industry] ... and our long-term strategy is we want to maximize the value for our patients.”

Managed “wellness” care is also an area of expanding focus among healthcare providers, with clinicians helping patients take a greater role in monitoring their own chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid issues.

The goal? To decrease the number of trips to the emergency room.

As they navigate through the ever-evolving landscape of American healthcare, medical facilities are working together, to collaborate, share knowledge and resources and identify cost efficiences and redundancies, said Moody Chisholm, CEO of St. Vincent’s HealthCare.

“We are partnering wherever it makes sense for the patients and community, including partnerships with historical competitors,” Chisholm said.

How will the rollout of Obamacare play out on the First Coast in 2014? How will it affect your operations?

“Many of our challenges and opportunities will continue to revolve around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act ... as always our main focus will be on how it affects our patients, and how we can use it to help them. We will also closely follow the debate over Medicaid expansion as it makes its way through the state legislature. We believe accepting the offer of federal money will help not only our patients but everyone throughout the state.”

Read the article in the Jacksonville Business Journal.