One of the more exciting events I attended recently was the Life Octagon 2012 Conference, "Reimagining Health Care: Making Health the Goal."1 This event featured an impressive lineup of speakers including a noted health care futurist, a former state insurance commissioner, health care policy researchers, and many others well-known in their areas of expertise.2
The event took place on the campus of Life University over the course of three days. The Octagon is an annual event that began in 2009. If you had been able to attend this year, you would have come away with a list of things you need to be aware of, change or plan for in your practice. Many of these will not come as a surprise, but need to be included as we look to move forward. I made some notes while at the event that I think will help you prepare your practice for the next 10 years:
- The chiropractic profession will need to continue to fight for the right to be included in future health care policy.
- Third -party payers will continue to do everything they can to delay or withhold payment for services provided by DCs and other providers.
- Expect organized medicine to continue to try to exclude chiropractic services from mainstream health care.
- Considering the way the new health care delivery systems are being developed, many of our future battles for inclusion and reimbursement will be fought at the state level. Our state associations need to be ready.
- We will need to be more proactive as the rules governing the development of new health care delivery systems are written. This needs to happen before these rules are implemented, not afterward.
- The relationship you have with your patients will play an important role in the future of your practice. Patients will drive more decisions in the future.
- Appreciate that as a doctor of chiropractic, you can provide unique health benefits within a wellness philosophy that is increasingly sought after and respected. Be proud of who you are and what you do.
- Keep your own practice statistics in a report format that you can share with other providers. Track the time and number of visits it takes to return your patients to their prior levels of function and activity.
- Guard and enhance your "Web reputation." Ensure that you are rated highly online by your patients.
- If you belong (or wish to belong) to any provider networks, you will want to re-evaluate what networks you want to participate in. Some strategic changes may be in order as the health care landscape changes.
- Become more electronically interactive with your patients and other health care providers. This is the way the world is going; you might as well embrace it.
- Develop better relationships with the people and organizations in your local community. Look for ways to guide people to better health habits and become the wellness authority in your area.
- You must learn about accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, and plan accordingly.3 These will shape the future of health care going forward.
- Cultivate more and better relationships with medical providers, particularly those involved in patient-centered medical homes.
- Third-party payers will adapt their processes to make their interactions with you even more electronic; structure your practice accordingly.
Expect these and other changes to take place in the usual confusing manner. This doesn't mean change is not occurring; it means you have to watch more closely to see how you should adapt your practice to those changes.
The coming health care dynamics will challenge your ability to think differently and embrace new models of care. In the end, I still believe the best care will win the day, politics aside. Our job as a profession is to ensure that chiropractic care is recognized as the first choice before drugs and surgery.
- Clum G. "Reimagining Our Health Care System: Making Health the Goal." Dynamic Chiropractic, Feb. 26, 2012.
- Life University 2012 Octagon Agenda; complete list of presenters / speakers. www.lifeoctagon.org/2012-octagon-agenda
- The Role of Chiropractic Care in the Patient-Centered Medical Home. White paper from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, released July 2011.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.