Editor’s View: For now, reform the least of providers’ worries

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As an editor, I have the luxury of stepping back and looking at the healthcare industry from Mount Everest. And from that 10,000 foot view, it’s become clear to me that we’re paying way too much attention to reform in some quarters. Yes, I meant just what I said.

Let’s be realistic. While healthcare reform will change much about the system, it’s not going to hit providers over the head anytime soon.  In fact, if you ask around, you’ll hear many executives say that for the time being, they have much bigger problems than forming an Accountable Care Organization or coping with a facility-jamming influx of newly-insured patients. 

What do providers have on their plate?  Well, let’s just name a few of the issues they’re grappling with right now.

*  Hospitals and medical practices are buying and rolling out EMRs.  This is institution- and career-changing stuff, not to mention hugely expensive and time-consuming.

* Practices need to get their ICD-10 ops in gear.  An immense task.

* While the issue rises and falls in the news, not for profit hospitals will definitely undergo future rounds of critically-serious pummeling over their levels of charity care — especially since insured levels won’t shoot up until 2014.

* Medicare and Medicaid, especially, are more precarious than ever.  Medicaid, in particular, is in some of the worst straits ever courtesy of record-breaking state budget problems.

And  that’s just a few balls providers will be juggling in over the next two or three years. 

Of course, when reform hits, and the system is forced to pick up and care for millions of new patients, the added challenges will reach epic levels. Where will we find the primary care doctors to care for this population, much less offer them a true medical home?  How will hospital EDs cope with the influx?  What will hospitals and doctors do to create successful ACOs?   And so on.

But in the mean time, the day-to-day is quite enough to keep execs busy, don’t you think?

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George Carruthers December 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm

At 10,000 feet you haven’t even reached Base Camp Everest!


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