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Tuesday
Dec142010

Change Creates Opportunity. Here's Where To Look. 

Looking for love in all the right places.

Many years ago I was the ENT doc seeing patients at the Gates Clinic. The clinic was an on-site healthcare facility for employees of the Gates Rubber Plant in Denver and I worked there one day a week as a contract doc. The clinic is now gone, the plant became condos next to a light rail station and I moved on. The other day I received a request from someone asking me if I know anyone offering on-site care to employees. Henry Kaiser would have been proud.

None of us needs to be told that the US healthcare system is undergoing change. Designed for yesteryear and  showing signs of dysfunction and age, our system is cracking under the strain of an aging population, escalating costs and technological progress.

Things have changed in several important ways:

  • Health Insurance Reform and changes to the Reimbursement model
  • Decentralized patient –centered care
  • Downsizing /rightsizing the healthcare workforce
  • Electronic medical records, healthcare information exchanges and data analytics/BI
  • Acute to preventive care
  • Disconnected to integrated care
  • Medical travel: The search for value-based care
  • Mobile health
  • The emergence of non-US markets for biomedical innovation
  • Increasing regulatory scrutiny
  • The changing intellectual property landscape
  • New healthcare delivery models : telemedicine, concierge medicine, hospitalists
  • Physician-industry conflict of interest and transparency requirements

These market shifts can be lumped into four categories, each an opportunity for you to make a difference.

The first is healthcare information technology. The infrastructure emerging has four basic components: electronic medical records, health information exchanges, data analytics and business intelligence and telehealth/telemedicine. They all serve as elements of a rapidly evolving national healthcare information architecture that will be second nature to your doctor wannabee daughter who is now in high school. Using the system will be as easy as putting your card in an ATM machine in Nairobi and getting US dollars.

The second category are those changes and models designed to deliver care more efficiently and effectively than the present face-to-face model, where the patient has to come to a structure to see the doctor. Examples include on-site clinics located in businesses, disease management facilities, intermedicate care clinics and pharmacy based offices.

The third group attempts to make billing and collection better, faster and cheaper. Processes like identity verification and authorization, real time benefits verification, dependent validation and benefits comparisons are designed to make sure the right person is getting paid the right amount for the right reasons.

Finally, the ground is shifting under the biomedical innovation infrastructure. Changes in regulatory rules concening manufacturing, marketing, FDA approval and intellectual property are but a few of the manifestations.

If you are searching for a non-clinical career and have been unsuccessful so far, you might be looking for love in all the wrong places. Check the action in industry, healthcare IT, alternative care delivery and revenue cycle managment and you are likely to find it.

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