Despite a slow and somewhat brutal 2009, forecasters and advisory firms suggest that things are looking up for the healthcare industry in 2010. ZweigWhite, a consulting firm, expects that the Health Care market will perform well largely as a result of growth in the market. Although the news appears to be positive, the health care industry will face increasing challenges in 2010. With healthcare reform on the forefront of the industry’s concerns, there is a level of uncertainty to wrestle with. Even still, efficiency, improved quality of care, price reduction and integrating technology into the day-to-day operations of health care providers are top issues provider can expect to face in 2010. If you act intelligently and quickly, you can use these issues to grow and improve your medical practice, clinic or hospital.
THE TOP 10:
1. Looming healthcare reform.
Because the effects of the changes in healthcare legislation are largely unknown, the best thing health care providers can do to shore up small practices, medium to large size medical groups, and small private hospitals is to prepare for even greater reductions in reimbursement and develop independent cash-only models to drive revenues. People who want superior healthcare will pay for it despite government regulations. If you prepare to provide your current consumer with affordable medical care options, you can develop cash-only revenue from those services.
2. Performance based pay.
Most medical professionals dislike the idea of Pay-for-Performance programs; however they are expected to be on the rise in 2010. These new P4P structures will provide rewards and penalties for providers, which are designed to improve the quality of care and patient safety. The best way to avoid being subject to this impending issue? Develop a cash-only business model and stop relying on insurance carriers for your income.
3. Physicians will head to the hospitals.
As the lifestyle of health care providers increase in complexity and dissatisfaction many physicians will seek employment with hospitals. For those entrepreneurial physicians with a passion for their own practice this will be an opportunity to control the landscape of private primary care. Moreover, physicians who develop ancillary services and cash-only business models will thrive and improve their overall lifestyle simultaneously.
4. Bad debt and no liquidity still plague the healthcare industry.
The financial meltdown of 2008 is still taking its toll on access to financial resources across all industries including healthcare. Physicians, clinics and small hospitals must focus on providing revenue generating services and reducing expenses to free up capital for operations.
5. The need for nursing and health care support staff will surge.
With the increase in baby boomers entering their prime time for health care services, nursing and support staff will be in high demand. An increase in training programs for nursing and administrative staff is inevitable.
6. Expect hospitals to close.
With the increase in unpaid revenue and continued economic stagnation you can expect hospitals to close or merge throughout 2010. Those facilities that implement researched and strategic marketing tactics, as well as reduce expenses and improve operations will stay strong and thrive.
7. Efficiency is the name of the game.
With reform underway there will be increased pressure to develop efficient methods for the delivery of care. “Clinical Integration” is being touted as the provider model of the future aimed at lower costs and providing better medical care.
8. Embrace the widespread use of technology.
The use of IT solutions including Electronic Medical Records, Patient Health Records, Eprescribing and more will continue to be the focus of advancement in health care delivery. Embrace these changes and begin adopting practices that will help your operations integrate more easily with new technologies. Use technological advancement as a leg up in marketing your health care services by providing the most advanced, patient-friendly health care services in your community. Moreover, reap the financial rewards provided under health care reform for adopting new IT strategies.
9. People are still resistant to spending.
The economy is by no means anticipated to “bounce back.” As a result, high levels of unemployment and increasing Medicare patients are expected. This means you will have to work even harder to build relationships with paying patients and establish relationships with your number one source of insured consumers….businesses. Take a strategic approach to marketing your health care services to increase the likelihood of maintaining a consistent revenue stream through a mostly sluggish 2010.
10. Patients are becoming empowered and aware; suddenly brand matters.
Health care providers have put marketing on the back burner and view marketing as the step child. However continuing to neglect healthcare marketing (which requires understanding your patient base, communicating with your patient base, establishing pricing that caters to your patient base, promoting your brand and services, and more) will result in a failed medical practice, clinic, or hospital. Consumers are more educated than ever when it comes to health care and reform will force physicians and hospitals to demonstrate value to potential patients. In 2010 prepare your practice, large or small, to compete on quality, performance, access, and affordability.
If you need assistance in developing a plan to improve your medical practice, clinic, or hospital, Rx MD Marketing Solutions can help. Please visit us online or call us today so that we can provide you with resources that will improve your professional and personal life!