Federal Healthcare Law is Changing, But Independent Doctors Should Also Focus on the State

The country’s attention is focused on changes to federal healthcare law, and providers, patients and payers are getting ready to adapt to another new system of care delivery.

The changes coming from Washington will have an impact on doctors and administrators, whether they work for a large hospital network or a local clinic. But if you operate an independent medical practice, complying with the newly passed American Health Care Act is not likely to be your most acute pain point in the future.

For the independent provider, keeping in line with state regulations will continue to be among the most costly and time-consuming hurdles you will need to get over as you provide the highest quality care you can.

State medical boards require full access to physicians, and to a facility’s operations. Larger health systems, which have exponentially more staff and other resources, are better equipped to comply with these rules without draining the budget or taking doctors away from the job.

For independent medical providers, upgrading technology and staffing up the office to comply with state medical boards is far more burdensome. Resources that could be applied to providing care are diverted to compliance matters, and doctors end up doing paperwork when they could be treating patients.

Compliance with state law is just one of the financial pressures that have led to a diminishing number of independent providers. They also face constant uncertainty over reimbursements from insurance companies, overhead costs like medical supplies and rent, and the ongoing need to upgrade their technology.

Though many doctors want to remain in business for themselves, it’s growing more and more expensive to do so. Technology is one of the costs that independent providers have to bear, but it can also be the key to increasing revenue, mitigating risk, boosting efficiency and keeping costs in line. Technology can also reduce the burden of complying with state regulations, one of the thorniest problems for the physician in independent practice.

But technology on its own cannot solve every problem, especially in healthcare, where the challenges are various and many. What the independent provider needs is a better system of practice management, a system that features both sophisticated software and human expertise.

The challenges and pressures that doctors face are constantly changing, and a practice-management system must also be able to change. Adapting to change is the key to survival in every business, but it is especially true for the physician in independent practice. Better software alone is not the answer. It must work in tandem with highly trained people who have patient outcomes top of mind.

Federal changes to healthcare law will continue to dominate the media and the national dialogue. But if you are an independent physician, state regulations will continue to be the biggest strain on your budget and your time.

Practice-management systems that are automated — but also guided by the human touch — will be the answer to that problem.