When the sickest 1-percent of patients are responsible for nearly 30-percent of healthcare costs (over $690 billion annually) everyone loses. Since millions of people will be joining Medicaid under the new healthcare reform, states must either be prepared to pay the price tag associated with high-cost patients or determine a better way to manage the additional costs.
If Medicaid programs continue operating at status-quo, taxpayers will be footing the bill for the millions of new Medicaid members. Without hefty tax increases and drastic decreases in funding to other social programs, the additional healthcare expenses from new members will result in many belly-up states. However, another option exists. Healthcare organizations can use technology to better manage patients. The American Relief and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009 allocated more than $30 billion in HIT incentive payments to healthcare organizations that invest in certified technologies to improve the exchange of healthcare information. If organizations take the bait, the outcome, amongst many other outcomes, will be lower healthcare costs.
Organizations that comply with the looming ICD-10 conversions mandated by the ARRA will have better data at their disposal. Some of this data will be used to better manage care for high-cost patients and individuals who overuse, underuse and misuse healthcare. But why should you, you being a taxpayer, care about healthcare data? The answer is because as a taxpayer you rely on the government to provide social programs in a cost-effective manner. To expunge every ounce of value from tax dollars, the US government mandated healthcare organizations become ICD-10 compliant by October 2013.
Compliance creates value for the taxpayer because the data collected will be used to better serve and manage care. Therefore, the ability to lower healthcare costs for the most expensive patients, whose care is monopolizing tax dollars, lies in the hands of healthcare organizations nationwide. It is a monumental time where legislation is driving down accountability within the private sector. Healthcare organizations who embrace the changes and invest in HIT will be rewarded through government incentive payments and healthier bottom lines – these organizations will also reap the rewards of being socially responsible for driving down healthcare costs for citizens nationwide.
Whether you are a decision maker at a healthcare organization in need of a technology facelift or “Joe the Plumber” each of us has one thing in common – we pay taxes. Therefore, as socially conscious citizens we should encourage and reward local healthcare organizations that invest in healthcare technology and comply with the ICD-10 mandate because it benefits us as individuals, as communities, as businesses and as a nation striving to have a first-rate system to serve a first-rate society.