Physicians speak: Use the lessons of this crisis to re-engineer healthcare

February 08, 2021
Business Affairs

4. Population health systems and predictive analytics are the key to managing patients effectively. These tools, developed to manage the care for specific cohorts of patients, measure outcomes, and qualify for value-based programs, proved their worth in this crisis by providing valuable intelligence to make quick, accurate decisions. Integrated health systems were able to quickly identify vulnerable patients and see to their needs, as well as evaluate infection trends. Some providers deployed artificial intelligence to predict future outbreaks on a block-by-city-block basis.

5. The pandemic could sound the death knell for fee-for-service medicine. The fee-for-service payment methodology is well known for its effect in fragmenting care, creating redundancies, and driving up costs. In this crisis, the financial downside of fee-for-service became clear, hitting some providers very hard. As patient visits dried up, pay-for-procedure medicine left many physician practices in a financial hole from which it will be hard to recover. In contrast, integrated groups that had primarily value-based and/or capitated contracts are expected to fare better. As we move back to more “normal” times, advocating for correctly incentivized payment for good medical outcomes will benefit all stakeholders.

6. Glaring disparities in access and health status must be addressed. The vulnerability of certain minority and low-income groups is forcing everyone to look at the reasons behind the statistics, and is creating momentum to address social determinants as well as employer-sponsored coverage. Public/private partnerships are needed to ensure that everyone has access to good care, coverage, and better opportunities to live healthy lives.

7. Give all physicians the support they need to be connected to other medical providers, specialists and patient resources so that they are able to practice proactive, preventive, coordinated medicine. Some larger medical groups already share resources with practices that are isolated or in rural areas to provide connected, coordinated care over a broader geography and/or network. This trend should continue to make sure no patient is left behind--and no doctor, either.

8. The well-being of medical providers must be a priority. During this crisis, stress, burnout and even trauma among healthcare providers also reached pandemic proportions. Health system leaders responded in numerous creative ways to help their frontline staff. This attention to mental and physical health of providers will also prove invaluable in the future and should be “baked” into the system.

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