South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday September 17, 2019
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December 2007 - Volume 4 - Issue 6

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2007: The Year of Transition

It is, once again, that time of year when we prepare to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, take stock of our personal and professional lives, and resolve to make changes in the New Year. From a business standpoint, this is the time for many of us to evaluate the performance of the past year and plan and budget for the one that’s about to begin …

All of us in healthcare are no doubt reflecting on a year that has brought such sweeping changes that many people have yet to fully realize the total impact. 2007 will perhaps be remembered as the most volatile year in our industry since the introduction of the Inpatient Prospective Payment System in the early 1980s … and 2008 promises to be just as challenging!

We all heard the grumblings from governmental and other officials warning of the switch from a charge-based to a cost-based reimbursement system. We had escaped attempts in recent years to institute those changes, though little prepared us for this year’s radical change that even affected the DRG numbering system. Hospitals that cannot provide care for sicker, more acute patients are now faced with significant reimbursement decreases, and with that, added pressure to recruit and retain specialty physicians and staff that would enable them to provide a higher level of care.

On the physician side, not only did the Physician Fee For Service schedule show an overall decrease in reimbursements of over 8%, many of the other modalities that physicians use to augment their income have been stripped-down or completely eliminated. This, coupled with drastic changes to the Stark Laws, significantly changed the landscape of physician investments in hospital or other partnerships, and has limited the tools available to hospital leadership to align with physicians and keep them engaged in their facilities.

As of this writing, we are still waiting to understand the final impact that all of these changes will have upon our healthcare system. There are even attempts to further limit specialty hospital development, which may or may not be enacted by the end of the year.

Beyond the payor and governmental changes, 2007 also brought an abrupt interruption to what can only be described as the "days of wine and roses" for angioplasty and invasive cardiology. Study data released at the 2007 Annual American College of Cardiology conference questioned many long-standing beliefs about angioplasty vs. thrombolytics for the treatment of acute myocardial infarctions. Many programs immediately experienced dramatic decreases in interventional procedure volumes that have just begun to correct themselves.

Furthermore, recent recalls and device-integrity issues have impacted major vendors during the latter part of this year. As evidenced by previous recalls, these types of events can shatter consumer confidence in even the most robust and esteemed programs.

At this point, we have no choice but to weather the storm … "this too shall pass."

At Corazon, we continually work with our consulting and recruitment clients across the country to help them prepare for what lies ahead, specifically in the cardiovascular specialty. Indeed, we believe the best way to be positioned for the future is to understand the current landscape, and anticipate the changes and challenges that will emerge.

Our best advice is to always be informed. In this information age, there really is no excuse for not being "in the know" about changes in our industry. We offer multiple newswires and publications, educational and conference events, and other means to keep you abreast of what is planned and what has been enacted in our industry. Proactively developing strategies and solutions for your hospital or specialty program will help you set the stage for success in 2008 and beyond.

If 2008 is as tumultuous as 2007 (and we believe it will be!), especially in terms of hospital/physician payments and rule changes, Corazon is poised and ready to assist you with facing these challenges and maintaining cardiovascular program viability in our dynamic and ever-changing industry. Happy Holidays from our team to yours, and Best Wishes for the Year Ahead!

James Burns is a Vice President with Corazon, a national leader in specialized consulting and recruitment services for cardiovascular program development. For more information, call (412) 364-8200 or visit www.corazoninc.com.
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