<<hmm… I hear crickets…>>
That’s right. There is no one who understands it, including Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services), or Donald Berwick (nominated to lead CMS). It’s too complex, too long and frankly – just plain daunting.
But we are healthcare professionals. We make our livings understanding healthcare systems. So if we are confused by the complexity of healthcare reform, just imagine how patients and caregivers feel! Add to that all the changes going on at the state level regarding healthcare, including home care and nursing homes, and what do we have?
You see – politics, belief systems and confusion should make NO difference in how we will move forward with our work as patient advocates, as healthcare reform – the Affordable Care Act – continues to evolve and be implemented.
The only difference it should make is that there will be new rights to become familiar with, and those rights will be pro-patient for the most part. Our enhanced opportunities will result from implementation and violations of those rights.
> Increased rationing will take place – it’s already on the rise. Overcoming rationing as an obstacle to good care is a place a patient advocate can shine.
> Medical Homes and ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) will be developed and more of our patients will participate within them. Those relationships present advocates with new markets, perhaps within the Medical Homes or ACOs themselves.
> Pre-existing conditions – patients who have suffered these and will now have access to healthcare will need someone to shepherd them through a system they don’t recognize. Further, insurers will continue to look for ways to cut their costs working with patients who have expensive conditions – more rationing – see above.
> The evolution and implementation of electronic health records will become problematic for those who are used to paperwork – and for some, particularly the elderly who don’t use the Internet – someone who can help them understand and translate will be needed.
> Simple confusion on the part of patients and caregivers will create opportunities for advocates who like to market their services by speaking to groups. Putting together a “What healthcare reform means to you” talk – then using it to springboard the discussion of hiring a professional (you!) can be the key to plenty of new business.
No matter what their politics or personal beliefs, savvy health and patient advocates and navigators find the term “Healthcare Reform” to be music to their entrepreneurial ears.