What I Learned @ 2014 PIO

I had the opportunity to facilitate the Partners in Optometry conference put on annually by PEN. This year's conference concentrated on the impending changes coming to our profession and to all of healthcare. These topics were TOUGH, but made me realize, I may have my head in the sand on this.

My job was to help the attendees know what we should do with the new information and to be funny.

The first speaker was Dr. Chuck Posternack who is a practicing gastroenterologist.  He is a specialist in the demographics of the healthcare crisis in America and the Affordable Care Act. Clear statistics made a strong case for the necessity of the changes. He demonstrated that too many Americans are without healthcare and that the fee for service model is on its way out.

Then we had an enlightening lecture from Steve Baker on the availability of new technologies affecting how we practice. From communication tools to data collection to applications that collect and share medical data. We talked about how fast it is coming and what we can do to try to keep up.

The major insurance companies are looking for optometrists who can work within their systems to collect and communicate medical data effectively. Drs. Richard Hom and Howard Braverman are OD's who are big shots with two of these companies. Both are actively involved in developing the programs that will dictate how we deliver care to our patients in the future.

Dr. Hom's biggest take home point for me was the amount of data they collect and how far they will go to get it. I realized that coding just to get paid is not going to be enough in the future. To be attractive to insurers, we are going to have to be good at sending data - lots of data.

Dr. Braverman's message reminded us what got us here in the first place. Continue to work to make your optical and your contact lens practice becoming profitable pieces of the puzzle. We know how to do this, but we find ourselves worrying about all of these healthcare changes, and we sometimes forget what we do well.

Take Home Points:

  • Everybody has to have EHR now - All insurers are going to want more information than you can provide if you are not using EHR, get it now.  (Let me know if you need help picking one)
  • I have to get good at EHR - Regardless of MU, we have to figure out how to populate every field in our EHR, including height and weight.
  • We all need to be great at sending reports to other doctors.
  • Learn how to become a "Physician Extender" - and don't take it personally.
  • Almost everyone will have insurance now and very few people are going to be retiring with a lot of money.
  • We need to find new ways to deliver great care, not just repeated office visits.
  • Get good at communicating with patients via your EHR - if yours doesn't have a secure patient portal, start looking around.
  • Settle in to these changes - they are here to stay

In the near future, providers will not be chosen based on how good of a job they do but more of how good of a job they do reporting the data. I don't have to be the best at it, I just have to be better than my competition. And I will be.