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Reimbursement and Practice Management

In it for the "Long Run" – Changing with the Times

You may know I am a runner – have been for years. I’ve logged enough miles to run from Minneapolis to Seattle and back 28 times – I’m in it for the long run. Medical groups are “in it for the long run,” too. Clinicians are focused on being able to care for patients in the next few weeks – and for years to come.

We know times they are a-changing. Father and son–same diagnosis, both are being treated in the same clinic with similar symptoms. The father’s medical record is a third the volume of the son’s even though the father’s been treated in the clinic twice as long.

The son’s medical record may be related to earlier and improved diagnostics, new treatments – and most certainly new payer requirements requiring more documentation. The opportunity: To be able to focus much more information into a more succinct patient encounter. The challenge: To wade through all of the information to find what is relevant – while maintaining a broad enough context to understand bio-system interactions and the care provided by other specialists and generalists – coordination of care!


As you might imagine, over the years my training routine has changed; it’s not just “same-old-same-old.” “Me the runner” has had to deal with minor injuries, and challenges to a training schedule. I’ve also adopted technology advances in running shoes and climate-ready clothes (the swing from a humid 100-degrees plus to a windy 10-below zero can happen “up north”). There are HR monitors, wrist computers (formerly known as watches) with GPS, weather and pedometer functions, apps for cell phones, ID bands that have personal URL links for medical information – and a whole lot more.

So what’s changed? I am a bit slower, a bit heavier and more apt to miss a day – yet healthy and still enjoying running. I’m still in it for the “long haul ”– for the “health of it” – and approaching the 100,000 mile milestone.

And, what’s changed for the father and the son? The son was diagnosed earlier, has had some new treatments, and is enjoying a productive life. And, his dad is living a good life, too. The care providers have chosen to embrace “the new” (EMR, access to national and global disease and medication d-bases, on-line images and lab results, remote monitoring, on-line patient support and education, populating outcomes data-sets, coding, billing and business function interfaces, and advanced medical technologies). Their focus: Finding ways to make a healthy impact for both the father and for the son! And at the same time maintaining a “fiscally fit” practice so they have the opportunity to care for the grandson–should that need ever arise.

What things are you and your group doing to stay in it for the “long run” with the changes happening in healthcare delivery today and predicted in the future?

United States