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How (and why) modern medical practices are adapting to new market needs

September 10, 2021
Business Affairs

Tackling personnel shortages
The importance of flexibility is perhaps best exemplified by how medical practices have reacted to personnel shortages. Let me offer an example from medical physics. Before the pandemic, hospitals and clinics often insisted on having medical physicists on site when providing care alongside oncologists. However, the shortage of qualified medical physicists forced these places to agree to a hybrid model whereby medical physicists can be on site or consult remotely using video conferencing and other technologies.

This shift isn't only addressing the personnel challenge; it's more cost effective as well. Hospitals are finding that a lot of their profitable departments, including radiology and radiation oncology, are moving away from the "every time you do X procedure, you get X amount" insurance reimbursement model and toward a value-based care model. In a value-based care model, a hospital or clinic has a certain amount of money to deliver a certain result, and the more efficiently they can deliver that result, the more they keep of the fee. And having the flexibility of a hybrid personnel model opens the door to increasing profit without compromising care.

Ensuring a consistent level of care that exceeds regulatory requirements
Again, as healthcare providers consolidate, there's an expectation for providers to offer the same level of care across the whole organization. It's easy to see how growing too quickly can result in care inconsistencies, which is bad for company—and more importantly, bad for patients. Companies are solving this problem by rationing high-quality vendors: another reason why the hybrid on-site and remote model of care is attractive to healthcare providers. Another solution is for healthcare providers to invest in continuing education to ensure more vendors follow the high-quality vendors' principles.

Variation across a large organization is a complex problem, but it's one worth devoting a lot of resources to solving. One big reason is that payors—whether they're private insurance companies or the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services—are looking for organizations that can demonstrate operational consistency. The most successful medical practices can show through data that they are reaching, maintaining, and exceeding the bare minimum standards and providing a level of care and service that's good for the patient.

About the author: Michael Curry is the CEO of Apex Physics Partners.

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