“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!” We city kids always joked about the little towns we’d drive through on our Sunday drives or on the way to summer vacation. Trees, crops, and barns interrupted by a brief braking to pass a bar, church, and post office. That’s how it seems with health care these days. Politics aside (and not discussed here), the delivery and payment for health care is changing so rapidly “don’t blink or you’ll miss it”!
After a change in a significant relationship, you may find yourself navigating the healthcare system one your own for the first time, or at least from a very different perspective. You may have moved away from your former residence, you may now be responsible for finding new healthcare coverage, or even finding a new provider. All of these are much more challenging than they were a year ago.
Before you think about making any changes in coverage, read the plan. Know the plan. Don’t be afraid to call the plan and ask questions – over and over – until you know what your coverage costs, and the benefits you have. Hospitals, physician groups, and insurers are aligning together in new ways called Accountable Care Organizations. The goals of the ACO’s are to deliver high quality care while saving money through lowered costs. Take a look at this website for more information. The ACO concept has been around for a couple of years, but new strategic alignments are being created all the time, even here in Wisconsin. Make sure you fully understand whether your plan is part of an ACO, and how that ACO affects availability and locations of primary and hospital care.
One of the key factors that your hospital and providers know is a success to their healthcare delivery model is “consumer engagement”. That means that your participation and satisfaction in your own healthcare experience is a primary driver for ACO sustainability. What does all that mean? In short, insurers and providers are spending MORE money than ever to find new ways to effectively educate and communicate with you, the consumer. You are likely to be invited to answer surveys, engage your health record electronically, create and work toward health goals, and do more “home-work” related to any chronic health conditions you may have (like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, etc.)
Likely, your outpatient provider and hospital are now offering patient advocacy services. These advocates can help you get resources you need to become more active in your own healthcare. From understanding your bill and insurance benefits to accessing post-discharge assistance, advocates and other professionals are helping consumers in ways that effectively “connect” you and try to make you feel more “in control” of your health. Your hospital or clinic is also engaging social media, like Facebook, or electronic newsletters with advice or news about the latest developments in health care. All of these strategies are designed to achieve a greater and safer patient health outcome.
Health care is changing at an historically accelerated pace – don’t blink!!!