Smart Practice Forecast For 2016Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight can be less reliable. Still, there is no shortage of predictions for healthcare generally and physician practices in particular for the year ahead. A quick search uncovers everything from rosy positivity to dark warnings.
Among Fortune’s recent 10 predictions for healthcare were these notables:

More end-of-life discussions. Effective January 1 2016, physicians were able to get Medicare reimbursement for end-of-life discussions with their patients. This coincides with increasingly expensive medications, high deductible plans, and new payment models, which will spur physicians to engage patients in decision making around end-of-life discussions. In the long run, these developments will lead to pressure on drug pricing, higher Net Promoter Scores from patients, and higher incomes for doctors.
The demise of in-person on-demand care. The market for on-demand doctors and prescription drug delivery will be done in by the high cost of customer acquisition and the high price for services. Instead, the Fortune tellers write, more people will access on-demand care via telemedicine. And most patients will continue to stand in retail pharmacy lines to get their prescription drugs.
Telehealth will be a focus of more practices from 2016 forward, according to another set of predictions. It’s mainly due to access reaching near-crisis levels in some areas, but it doesn’t hurt than reimbursement is more favorable than ever. Texting and self-scheduling will become mainstream as patients demand more automation from the industry.
Not the end of the Accountable Care Act … for now. Regardless of which candidate wins the election in November, don’t expect the ACA to be repealed, says EmCare President Dr. Ray Iannaccone. “The ACA may be imperfect, but our country and our healthcare facilities have invested too much time and too many resources to turn back now,” he writes. However, Iannaccone does forecast changes for some provisions of the act “to more accurately reflect what healthcare is, should be, and can be for Americans.”
In MedCity News’ healthcare predictions, Dr. Linda Girgis puts it this way: “The winner of the presidential election will roll out a very pretty fix to the healthcare system. It will fail. Politicians cannot run healthcare, as has been proven time and again.”
A wave of payment models based on quality metrics. Girgis also writes that payment models using quality metrics “will hit us like a tsunami.” These models may improve patient outcomes, or they may not, but will definitely be profitable for insurance companies.
More patient-centered systems. Finally, Dr. Tom Giannulli declares that 2017 would be a “back-to-patient care year” with a focus on welcoming more interaction with patients. “Discovery on the web, digital interactions pre- and post-visit are all part of the story,” he states. “Practices will need to review merit-based incentive payment systems and value-based policy changes and plan how they will manage the changes coming in the next three years.”

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Last Updated on January 1, 2016