What's Ahead In 2022
Joe Nicholson, DO – Chief Medical Officer
As 2022 unfolds, it is becoming increasingly clear that health care is at a crossroads. Do we keep reacting to crisis after crisis, potentially undermining our ability to provide consistent patient care over time? Or do we start rethinking traditional care delivery models, so they become nimbler and more attuned to our patients’ needs—the clinical ones, as well as the socioeconomic and environmental ones? As organizations contemplate which path to take, I predict we are going to see some changes in three key areas this year.
More health care providers will transition to value-based care
It has been said a lot, but it bears repeating, fee-for-service models are not always a stable source of income in a crisis. Value-based care arrangements, however, offer the flexibility practices need to navigate the unexpected. More and more providers are realizing that having greater flexibility is essential for long-term resilience. Plus, it makes sense from a regulatory perspective. Late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Innovation Center set a goal for all original Medicare beneficiaries to be in a provider relationship with accountability for quality and total cost of care by 2030. While that may seem like a long time from now, the deadline will be here before we know it. It can take multiple years for an accountable care organization to turn a surplus. Looking at the 2030 timeline, there is not a lot of wiggle room for providers to enter these arrangements and fine-tune their approach. Moreover, practices that delay may eventually get boxed out of arrangements and struggle to find entry points before the deadline. Given all this, I believe that organizations are going to start accelerating their shift away from fee-for-service and start expanding their value-based care relationships this year.
Telehealth will continue to move beyond “care delivery in a crisis”
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen an explosion in the use of digital solutions to deliver care. At first, these applications were a means for connecting with people during lockdowns or case count spikes. But, for certain types of care, such as routine follow-ups, behavioral health appointments, and other visits that do not require a physical examination, these tools are being incorporated into standard practice. As new digital apps and virtual care tools enter the market at a rapid pace, it is fair to say that providers will keep exploring how they can use these platforms to provide the care and support their patients need.
The unintended consequences of digital health will become more apparent
As we embrace technology’s benefits, we also must acknowledge its risks. Telehealth and other technologies have helped improve accessibility for some, but they have widened existing gaps for others who do not have access to broadband internet or the necessary technology to use digital applications. To close these gaps, we have to be intentional in how we use digital solutions, so the technology does not become yet another roadblock to health equity. This will require collaboration and creative problem solving between providers, payers, and technology companies. We also have to do a better job connecting with community organizations, such as food banks, public health agencies, and transportation services that are working to address existing disparities. Finding ways to share data with these groups is going to be critical in closing gaps that limit health care access for so many Americans.
This year is shaping up to be a turning point for all health care providers - and for the industry as a whole. With the continued influx of data and new care models, it will be imperative for organizations to embrace partnerships and relationships that can help them embrace the rapidly changing landscape.
To learn more about how CareAllies can help your organization think through some of the big decisions ahead, visit www.careallies.com.