How physicians can deal with policy uncertainty
While used to change, physicians don’t necessarily embrace it, notes Mark Werner, MD, national director of clinical consulting for The Chartis Group, a healthcare consulting firm. “Physicians in general don’t tolerate uncertainty very well,” says Werner. “We work in a field accustomed to facts and information and things that are tangible. Now we find ourselves in a period where things are really pretty unclear and our comfort level as a profession with this level of unknown is a bit challenged.”
Werner says the Trump administration will enact changes faster than its predecessor, making medicine more about price and cost, hence accelerating the importance of patient choice. The combination of President Trump and a Republican Congress will mean a more free-market environment, less regulation and empowering individuals to make more choices. Therefore, he says, practices must stay aware of what’s coming their way and how to take advantage of it.
Werner notes there is always opportunity in uncertainty, especially for physicians who are visionary and entrepreneurial in their leadership. “Luck favors the prepared,” says Werner. “Now is the time that will reward the more ambitious and the bolder-moving practices. Those that tend to be late adopters and more cautious—already finding themselves behind the curve—will find themselves more behind.”
In Hamburg, New Jersey, solo OB/GYN Fred Nichols, DO, is taking that approach. Three years ago, Nichols added weight loss services that were covered by insurance to his practice as an added revenue stream. Now, anticipating some financial uncertainty, he’s adding more ancillary services to keep his practice thriving.
“I have to think outside of the box,” says Nichols, who has operated independently for 15 years. “As an OB, I never thought I’d be doing facial rejuvenation, but it is a cash-paying service.”
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Nichols has also taken on locum tenens work as a “little cushion” to help with the immediate future. “I used to be able to know, with some certainty, what patients and what revenue, were walking through the door,” he says. “I don’t feel that level of comfort anymore. If I see fewer patients, that means cutting staff and I don’t want to do that.”
Like Davis, he has dealt with the “huge cloud of uncertainty” dating back to before the election, but is a little more confident with a businessman running the country.