Starting with one family physician from Alabama contacting his congressman to request help fending off "Washington's war against doctors," he expressed the feelings of many of his medical peers. This one doctor also noted that "doctors are smothered by destructive regulations that add costs, raise our overhead and 'gum up the works,' . . ."
He is not alone. Many physicians believe these burgeoning regulations are dictating they target other things at the expense of quality patient care. Some doctors also feel these documentation regulations are reducing the number of patients they can help each day.
Combined with electronic health records (EHRs), the once again delayed ICD-10 code implementation until 2015 (or beyond?) and the ongoing Obamacare issues, other issues are only compounding physician dissatisfaction. Some providers feel that Washington is attempting to mimic an equally unsatisfactory government bureaucracy.
While the government bureaucracy claim may be stretching reality, it is easy to understand the other issues are that cause provider dissatisfaction. However, those physicians hoping for a return to the former status quo, will be disappointed, as it simply will not happen. Too many things have changed in the healthcare landscape, including the controversial Obamacare.
According to PhysiciansPractice.com, for all its many faults, Obamacare did our country a valuable service. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has exposed the real healthcare problem. Unfortunately, Obama care focuses on the wrong problem, as it is not the fault of Americans that healthcare costs have escalated to unacceptable levels.
Obamacare only transferred these unacceptable costs to American individuals and small businesses. The White House focus is skewed and ineffective. Yet, physicians and practices reap no benefits from healthcare reforms, only more regulation and paperwork. For some reason, Washington believes physicians can deliver quality care to the same number of patients (or more), while lowering costs, in the face of increasing documentation requirements.
Reducing costs while delivering quality care is a noble goal. This objective, however, is more attainable without increasing regulatory requirements. Cutting wasteful spending is always a practice goal, but it is being made more difficult by the government's consistent need for more detailed documentation to allegedly verify the quality of patient diagnosis and treatment procedures.
The methods used to reduce the runaway cost of healthcare need some physician creativity. It appears that the only way to win the "war" is through the effective action of medical providers to focus on quality care and expense reduction at the same time.
Remember, the Congress and the White House do not view their regulatory actions as declaring war on the medical community, only exercising their duty to protect Americans. While it is difficult to believe Washington is unaware of the unreasonable burdens they are placing on providers, physicians must analyze their own operations, finding ways to cut waste and make their practices more efficient.
How to Win the “War”
There are suggestions that can help physicians fine tune practice operations to achieve success in this confusing, burdensome new environment. Consider these suggestions when designing your policies.
- Learn to use state-of-the-art technology to streamline HIPAA and governmental reporting requirements.
- Encourage practice staff to "think" like entrepreneurs, seeking better ways to do things.
- Implement creative new policies and procedures a step at a time, instead of overwhelming staff.
- Consider a proven medical management service organization, such as M-Scribe Technologies, to control practice costs, ensure efficient claims processing to maintain revenue streams, and allow physicians to concentrate on delivering quality care, without concern for regulatory compliance requirements.
Use some or all of these general tips to craft an action plan, with specific operating procedures, to satisfy the need to deliver quality patient care, control expenses, maintain revenue levels, while staying in regulatory compliance. Your contribution to healthcare reform can win the "war" with Washington, while also reaping benefits for you, your practice and your patients.