By Dr. Andrew Albert, Chief Medical Officer and Cofounder of Fibroblast
Doctors and hospitals need to stop thinking of themselves as just a stop on a patient’s journey to wellness. Instead, I propose that they see themselves as the hub of a patient’s care.
We want what’s best for our patients, and we also need to make a living. As much it may be good for the bottom line when patients return and think they need further care, there can be consequences. Earlier this month, the federal government started to penalize hospitals for readmitting patients too soon after they were discharged. Among its reasons for doing this was the fact that Medicare alone pays $17.4 billion a year for unnecessary return visits.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When a patient needs continued care, the hospital can let one of the clinics know that a patient is coming, and can help that patient get a priority appointment.
That prevents them from having to be readmitted to the hospital — reducing revenue in the short-term, perhaps, but keeping the patient (and the billable hours) in the network over the long term. Also: The patient’s records are easily shared, meaning the care they receive will be nearly seamless.
That’s a model for how healthcare should be: Doctors and hospitals working together in a mutually beneficial system that provides patients with the best possible care and rewards the physicians as well. It turns doctors into the point person for their patients, not just as the referral source, but an enabler of scheduling (using a tool like Fibroblast) so patients will be seen as quickly as is necessary by a trusted medical professional.
As more and more healthcare systems go online, the possibility of this kind of collaboration and shared responsibility increases. I look forward to the day when we’re all a part of a Network like Denver Health’s and we’re keeping patients — and revenue — where we want them.