So, it’s been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. What does that mean for your Information Technology plans as a community healthcare provider?
In my opinion, I think this probably means the current trajectory related to IT spending and clinical automation projects doesn’t change. However, I’d like to outline a few items that I think you can expect as a result of this ruling as it relates to Health IT and Community Healthcare:
• Quality Reporting will continue to be an increasing requirement for reimbursement and compliance. This means your systems will need to be built in such a way that creating reports, manipulating reports and sending data to third party systems and sources using a variety of mediums is a fundamental requirement. So, if you haven’t thought about your patient portal yet, you probably need to, as an example. Another example of an area that affects a lot of community healthcare providers is the need to exchange clinical data between long term care facilities. Here too, this is one that may or may not be on the current radar of your IT Plan and will need to be if you have an LTC.
• Primary care physicians will continue to make the move to EHR’s at a rapid pace. This means their expectation of the local hospital will change as they move to become more electronic in their individual practices. The conversation will soon shift from “you want ME to enter orders electronically?” to “what do you mean I have to do my rounding on paper?” or, “why can’t I see the notes from the ER visit that happened this morning?”
• Sound IT disciplines and quality staffing will continue to be the SINGLE most important factor in producing quality outcomes with the technology. All software vendor products are created equal as it relates to this point. If you don’t take care of your own IT shop, their product can be the best in the world and create absolutely no value to your organization. When the stimulus dries up, it’s up to you to leverage the investment for value / return – see my next point.
• Stimulus has made it possible for many community and rural providers to move toward clinical automation, however, going forward, strategies for deployment and improvements to your IT operations and systems cannot be planned on the basis of stimulus payments that correspond to the technology investment. A broader strategy for addressing the cost will need to be identified. For example, IT strategies must include opportunities to increase revenue or margins through new services like Telehealth or Accountable Care Organization (ACO). Thinking strategically and leading an organization to these types of “end games” for IT will take a different kind of IT leadership than that of the past. “Propeller heads” need not apply.
No matter what happens legislatively, I think it’s a safe bet that tomorrow will require more of your organization than today, so now is the time to get that organization put together in a way that gives you a fighting chance for success!