The healthcare industry has been in turmoil for a few years. Changes in technology and legislation have affected providers all over the country. The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for millions of uninsured people to gain healthcare access at reasonable rates. But recent efforts to repeal the bill have sparked a lot of uncertainty and fear among the population. With the fate of the bill still hanging in the balance, what are the consequences for the industry in general and EDRs in particular?
The Healthcare Problem
The American healthcare industry is beset with problems today. Even though taxpayers pay more for healthcare than their counterparts in other developed nations, they have poorer outcomes. Millions of people are uninsured or underinsured which hinders access. A single medical emergency can push households over the brink into chronic debt or bankruptcy. Comprehensive healthcare plans have exorbitant premiums not everyone can afford to pay.
While almost everyone agrees that there are problems and we need to fix them, no one can agree on the best way to do so. In the absence of a political consensus, legislation either falls by the wayside or fails to address critical problems. The most recent efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have failed but that has not deterred officials from further attempts.
What Does This Mean for the Healthcare Industry?
There is a lot of uncertainty and fear surrounding the current and proposed legislation regarding healthcare. Insurance companies have no way of knowing if the state marketplaces will continue to function or not. No one knows if the insured population will increase or decrease in the face of new healthcare bills. Employers need the ability to estimate their annual healthcare costs, an exercise in futility if the relevant legislation is likely to change at a moment’s notice.
All of this will likely lead to higher premiums over the next few years as insurers strive to anticipate changes and cover costs. Unfortunately this means that people will lose what little insurance they have now, especially those who are unemployed (either temporarily or otherwise). The domino effect from these consequences will be huge.
Studies have shown that access to healthcare is dependent on insurance coverage. Healthcare access for children depends on the insurance that parents are able to get. Sick guardians are more likely to miss their own appointments as well as for those who depend on them like children and parents. They’re more likely to miss work due to illness and consequently lose their jobs along with insurance coverage. It’s a vicious cycle that almost impossible to break.
Impact on EDR
The meaningful use program and other federal incentives have helped providers to implement EDR technology within their practice. Certification enables clinics to evaluate EDR software objectively and reach an informed purchasing decision. The financial incentives have helped to defray some of the high costs of deployment for many providers. Many people fear that this momentum will be lost if new legislation is pushed through.
As it stands, many hospitals and clinics are on the cusp of switching to a different EDR application or service provider. Quite a few clinics face numerous obstacles in training, education and awareness. While some have reported extremely positive results, others have experienced the opposite. Almost everyone agrees that we have to do so much more before EDRs can completely replace older systems.
The dream of a paperless healthcare system requires more investment, research and collaboration between the various entities involved in such an initiative. The ultimate goal is to provide better healthcare access to the population while ensuring positive outcomes for everyone. Hopefully the uncertainty will end so we can focus on the next steps for EDR technology.