Industry looks to become more efficient

In the healthcare industry, efficiency is the name of the game.

Medical employers are looking for professionals who not only understanding their particular trade, but are also efficient workers who understand the value of worker quickly, accurately and with an eye on waste.

“Study after study tells us that we pay too much for health care in the United States, and we’re no healthier than the people in nations that spend much less,” Mark Bertolini recently reported for USA Today. “A 2012 Institute of Medicine report on health care spending in 2009 estimated that of the $2.7 trillion national spend on health care that year, 30 percent — or $810 billion — was wasted on unnecessary services, inefficient service delivery, fraud and abuse, predatory pricing and excessive administrative costs.

“More recently, the Commonwealth Fund looked at 11 industrialized nations and ranked the United States highest in per capita spending and lowest in overall performance.”

In an effort to control costs, the medical field is looking for ways to become more efficient and that includes hiring medical assistants who can work in an efficient manner.

“The health care system is creeping forward against all forms of waste,” Bertolini adds. “When consumers hear about accountable care agreements or payment reform, they are hearing about new efforts to improve care quality and dramatically reduce waste.”

While medical assistants may not have much say in payment reforms, they do play an important role in helping a medical facility run more smoothly, and that plays an important role in cutting costs and providing better care.

In an effort to increase efficiency in the medial industry several steps are taking place. Here are some of the highlights from the USA Today article:

  • The hospitals and physicians that are seizing every opportunity for preventive care, wellness and population health management are part of the solution. When health care providers work together and with health plans to improve efficiency and avoid unnecessary services, they are addressing that waste and delivering high-quality health care. They become responsible for the care they deliver, not the resources they consume.
  • Currently, chronic disease care often involves several physicians treating the same patient. If physicians do not routinely communicate with one another, it leads to duplicate tests, inefficient care and poor health outcomes. But when health plans work together with health care providers — in one program we had an Aetna nurse working in a physician’s practice — we are able to help extend the services that practice provides. Our claims data can help identify the people who are due for a visit, those who haven’t filled their prescriptions, and those who may be getting sicker. We also make sure that any member who is hospitalized is seen by his or her doctor within 30 days of discharge to help avoid readmission. Patients in this program had 50 percent fewer inpatient hospital days, 45 percent fewer hospital admissions, and 56 percent fewer readmissions than patients who were not in the program. Health care costs were substantially lower.
  • Moving beyond improved communication and collaboration, payment reform will be the single most important driver in reducing all categories of waste. Our system needs to abandon the “fee for service” payment model. It’s a 1940s-era model and is not designed to care for the sickest most vulnerable members of our community. Instead, we should pay hospitals and doctors for good health outcomes among patients. We should link payment with the results of the care delivered, as measured in patient health improvement, and not in the number of services provided.
  •    We also need to reconsider our approach to care delivery. For example, hospital systems that most successfully treat patients with heart disease should treat more of those patients. Other systems that are more successful treating patients with cancer should provide that care. Health systems that don’t have a solid track record of successful outcomes in a certain specialty should focus their service delivery where they are successful and can best meet the needs of the population they serve. Changes like these could yield dramatic reductions in wasteful spending in as little as five to seven years.

The medical field is making policy changes in an effort to become more efficient. But employers are also looking for medical assistants who are professionally trained and understand the importance of time management and cutting down on waste.

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