The Affordable Care Act has enabled millions of Americans who were not previously able to, to apply for health insurance. As a result, clinics, hospitals, and other medical practices could see a large increase in patients this year. It’s too early to tell how the numbers will play out, but clinics need to be prepared in order to serve patients well. There are some preparations you can enable that can help your medical practice better serve existing patients, regardless of what happens as a result of Obamacare. Improvements in efficiency, equipment, and procedures can benefit all patients, whether they are new patients or familiar faces.
Some medical practices have already been making changes that will put them in good standing under the Affordable Care Act, namely those that offer more options and levels of care to their constituents. Instead of providing only primary care and family doctors for regular medical care and emergency rooms for immediate health issues, many areas have seen the growth of urgent care facilities and other clinics. The hope is that these will help bridge the gap between routine medical care and full blown medical emergencies.
Other medical practices are seeking new ways to expand, bringing primary care into new areas and reaching out to potential clients. Regular medical care can help a lot of people avoid the need for more serious and expensive care, but people who have not had access to health insurance before may be under-educated about the need for regular medical care, or have simply never made the connection with a primary care provider. Reaching out to these individuals is one way that medical practices can both help the people in their areas and their practices plan for necessary changes.
Removing inefficiencies in medical practice procedures is another way that medical clinics and hospitals can prepare for increased patient loads and serve their existing patients better. The more efficient a practice is, the more time doctors and other staff have to interact with patients. It also allows an easier flow for more patients to be served throughout the day. Making processes more efficient also tends to save money, an important consideration as clinics and hospitals face uncertain times ahead. With more resources available, more options for changing with the health care market become available.
Related to improvements in efficiency is the need to update facilities, especially the medical equipment that is used for different medical procedures such as x-ray equipment and CR systems. Using up-to-date medical equipment, especially equipment which makes use of digital processing and integrated clinic-wide computer systems, can make the patient experience flowing smoothly and faster from the beginning to the end. While buying new equipment for the sake of having something new is rarely a good idea, it may be a good time to take stock of what clinics use now and where strategic upgrades could make good sense, both for seeing more patients if it becomes necessary and for serving every individual in a faster, more comprehensive way.
In order to be ready for whatever Obamacare brings, medical practices need to take stock of their current position and plan for changes in the months to come.