If your healthcare facility is engaged in care for patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid you are likely feeling the pressure of the looming deadlines associated with Meaningful Use Standards. The clock is ticking the loudest in the ears of healthcare management professionals where patient records management is still heavily achieved with paper-based record keeping methods.
Electronic records management has been bantered about for years in the healthcare industry and the definitions as well as the terminology used to describe it have varied widely throughout the medical community. That's changed now that government regulation is part of the picture.
Meaningful Use Compliance and Your Marketing Plans
How will compliance with these regulations affect marketing plans? The regulations are roling out in phases, providing cash incentive programs to those who bring their business methods up to speed sooner rather than later. The standards apply only to those who provide services to Medicare and Medicaid patients - with a carrot of cash incentives for getting on board now. Things will change - unless legislation intervenes - in 2017 when the plan transitions to reduce payment amounts for services provided to these groups of patients if meaningful use standards aren't being met by the service provider.
How can you make a clear healthcare marketing plan for a business engaged as a service provider impacted by these requirements and these changes looming in the future? How about just stop treating the patients who are covered under these programs? Even if you had to make such a terrible decision the odds are not good that it will make any difference, you will still have to comply with the regulations unless you can tolerate the lowered payment structure. The reason is insurance providers are likely to follow the lead and implement the same policies of reducting payment for claims unless patient records are managed according to the new standards. Why wouldn't they move in this direction? Since the electronic flow of information would likely add efficiency and reduce overhead costs it would serve them well to encourage it.
It all sounds wonderful for everyone except the countless healthcare businesses who have to invest their own resources to bring their methods up to date. News of this is likely to derail any big marketing plans that might have been hatched without this cloud hovering in the air. For the early birds, getting back some of their money from the incentives in place now will help but it isn't designed to cover the entire cost.
Change is Painful
We've all heard it a million times, change is sometimes painful but knowing this doesn't ease it. Depending on where your facility stands on this issue today the changes could be small or they could be monumental, maybe even devastating. For those charged with meeting the marketing goals of these businesses it will likely mean a lot of anxiety and worry since budgets are likely to suffer as funds are shifted to make the changes.
If you find yourself in this situation you should take steps now to find ways to make the new standards actually work in your favor. These steps won't eliminate the expense of it, but could certainly make them a lot less painful. Just as medical records technology has changed so has marketing technology. Find ways to use the vast amounts of information being collected and funneled into categories. Use it to more deeply understand your business. While being mindful of privacy standards that are also a big part of the healthcare services industry it is possible to use the efficiencies to guide marketing efforts.
By making smart decisions now - while you're in the early phases of developing your electronic records management framework - you can benefit along the way by synchronizing it with well thought out inbound marketing strategies.
You don't have much choice in whether to meet the compliance standards of meaningful use so why not put it to work in a positive way.