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Physician practice call to action: Time to start digital transformation to value-based care and pop health

As the 2019 transition approaches, finding expertise to support changing payment models will become more difficult, and likely expensive.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

For practice leaders and hospital executives that oversee multiple medical groups, the time has come to either start in-house vendor selection for IT to support value-based care and population health or seek an outside consultant because as the 2019 switch draws near, both will be more difficult to sign-up. 

That's because the overwhelming majority of physician groups have no strategic plan in place for transitioning to value-based care and they lack the information and technology infrastructure as well as in-house expertise to transform their organizations, according to Black Book's 2018 value-based care study. 

Among the 900 participating physician organizations, in fact, 93 percent have no strategic plan for population health management or value-based care due to a lack of internal experts. What's more, 95 percent of group practice and large clinic CIOs said they don't have the information technology or in-house staff needed to actualize their physician or executive leadership's vision for transforming value-based care within the organization. And fewer than 7 percent have started selecting comprehensive value-based care software vendors.

"To facilitate the transformation within physician organizations, providers are increasingly seeking the advice of value-based care consulting firms to review accountable care organizations opportunities as a mounting number of multi-specialty practices are willing to accept risk," Black Book said. 

With that state of unpreparedness, and another year of MACRA reporting bearing down on providers, not to mention the overall push from Health and Human Services to tie more and more payments to value, it makes sense that most respondents are seeking consultants to help steer their path. Almost 70 percent of group practices comprised of 10 or more physicians said they would be seeking outside advisement how to clinically and financially transform their operations before Q2 2019. 

Moreover, the transition will require a high level of expertise, as 89 percent of respondents said they prefer an advisor with knowledge of both population health and revenue cycle management.

Slightly more than a fifth of academic medical centers physician departments and clinics surveyed will have hired value-based care consultants by Q4 of this year, so the march is very much on.

Physician organizations ready and willing to invest in value-based care should start looking for those outside thought leaders sooner rather than later. The downward pressure on transitioning to value-based care isn't going to lessen. It will likely grow in fact. Getting an early start and navigating the path well will mean more time to adjust and fine-tune workflows and overall operations, and may lessen mistakes and losses.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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