Now is it the time to invest in healthcare quality!
The Affordable Care Act will shift the process of patient care in many ways with more patients gaining access to care and less money paid for its delivery. All providers will feel the pressure to demonstrate care value and focus on effectiveness and efficiency for successful outcomes. Healthcare providers already know that electronic health records (EHRs) can help them provide higher quality and safer care for their patients. Some healthcare providers now use EHRs to reduce paperwork and increase efficiency. The governmentu2019s incentive program to subsidize the transition to EHRs requires the demonstration of Meaningful Use to improve the quality of care and lower its demand that value be demonstrated with increasing quality measures. While some providers were excluded from the stimulus program to convert to digital record formats, they will not be granted a pass for accountability to report quality measures as these requirements take effect later in 2012.
Regrettably, rehabilitation providers who delay the investment in the digital pursuit of quality improvements could find their payments reduced. To delay in an environment of rapid advances in quality and information management will result in the decline in quality of their services. Waiting for the IT vendor market to bottom out will create a significant obstacle to overcome as value-based purchasing of healthcare accelerates its impact on provider payments. Preserving current status until the consequences of poor quality are identified by others is a strategy of stagnant inertia and requires extreme management effort to maintain. Continuous improvement is a prerequisite for value-based purchasing of healthcare services. Investing in the information and technology tools to build with becomes more costly the further behind the provider is when starting the quality pursuit. Investment in IT tools to demonstrate value is a risk but recovery is possible. Under investing, or investing too late, will certainly limit the potential of any recovery.
Quality is an investment; which, if made wisely, will return benefit value that outpaces the investment cost.