Universal healthcare has always been a buzz-inducing topic, one that’s only increased in discussion as we begin to see plenty of candidates in 2020 promise some version of “Medicare For All.” And whether you believe it’s possible or that we’re simply not capable of providing it just yet, part of a provider’s duty to its patients is to account for possible changes in the way healthcare evolves and to adapt accordingly. 

So, with that in mind, in a hypothetical scenario where Medicare For All became a reality, what kind of changes would occur? Which facilities would be most affected? How would tech like a facility’s medical computer systems or staff like the IT department need to adapt to meet these new norms? 

Who Would Be Affected Most by Medicare For All?

It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that Medicare For All would require a pretty intensive reworking of many of the systems and procedures healthcare facilities currently have in place. And while that may be the case, many larger facilities have the IT infrastructure, staff, and budget necessary to make those changes- it would take time, but it would ultimately be a question of “when” and not “if.” Smaller healthcare facilities, however, might not have the same luxuries. 

Small and medium-sized practices don’t have the same level of resources as the Kaisers or the Mayo Clinic’s of the world. They’re poised to be hit a lot harder not only because of the manpower needed to prepare for Medicare For All, but because they’ll also be up against much more competition once it’s in place. Rural hospitals, for example, could stand to lose up to 14% of their revenue should Medicare be opened up to people under 65, according to Modern Healthcare.  

Of course, that doesn’t mean smaller or private practices are doomed to die out. With focus placed on the right initiatives and healthcare technology, these facilities stand to survive, and even thrive, should Medicare For All come to fruition.

Consider Patient Experience

In a situation where Medicare is made available to all, patients will no longer be bound to whatever healthcare facility is available to them on their insurance plan. Of course, it’s not like healthcare facilities are purposefully skipping out on providing quality service because they know they’re patients are tethered to them, but patient experience can often take a backseat to other aspects of patient care.

If everyone becomes covered, the average patient will have more choice in healthcare facilities. Suddenly, patients can start shopping around for a provider that can deliver both effective treatment and a premium patient experience. Healthcare facilities that want to continue succeeding through the Medicare For All movement will want to meet these new demands in their patients.

Consider the experience of your patients from the time they enter your facility. How long is your average wait time? How often do scheduling errors occur? These are both things that should be optimized to ensure your patients are having a streamlined visit from start to finish. 

To that end, technology such as a medical panel PC or medical tablet can make great sign-in computers for patients, allowing them to check in, describe their medical history, provide co-payments, and answer questions about risk factors before even entering an appointment. The right models will have antimicrobial properties baked into the material of the device itself, making it easily disinfected and fit for use by your patient-base. Tablets and PCs that are designed to be fanless can also ensure harmful bacteria and pathogens aren’t circulated around your lobby.

As far as software is concerned, you’ll want to make sure your IT department is skilled enough to handle rolling out those systems. If you find your team is lacking in that regard, you might want to consider building out that department in the face of Medicare For All.

Draw in More Data

Of course, patient experience is only a part of the equation. Your facility still needs to compete as far as the actual care you administer. To that end, gathering more patient data is one guaranteed way to help improve the quality of care your facility can administer. The more of an understanding you have of your patients, the better you can cater to their specific conditions. Thankfully, many facilities have already made this connection as we see more and more resources get poured into value-based care, healthcare interoperability, and wearable technology.

Consider getting started in population health management. By building out the amount of patient data you have on the larger population your facility serves, you can improve patient outcomes across the board. Not only that, you can optimize your facility to effectively treat the conditions that most commonly ail your patient-base.

Investing in telehealth can also help build out the foundations of more data-driven, value-based care. Wearables and patient monitoring devices, for example, can allow patients to share health data with your team remotely. The addition of real time updates such as these, allows your facility to deliver timely updates to treatment plants while also supplying you with more data to bolster your population health management programs. 

Of course, when you have access to your patients’ data, you’ll want to make extra sure it’s being properly protected.  

Protect Your Patient’s Data

Like we mentioned earlier, Medicare For All is set to make some major changes to the current healthcare infrastructure. Unfortunately, nothing makes for a more appetizing target for a cybercriminal than a facility in the middle of a large-scale transition. Now imagine that facility being one as data-dense as a hospital and it’s easy to predict a hike in cybercriminals looking to get their hands on that information. Larger facilities are more than likely fortified enough to handle this increase in cyberattacks, but small and medium sized ones with less layered defenses may be at more risk.

Regardless, patient data security and cybersecurity have always been integral to the healthcare space and will continue to be so. Smaller facilities will want to make sure all of their hardware and software are properly updated to ensure they all have the latest and greatest cybersecurity measures. 

Single sign on solutions are also a smart investment since they can protect staff login credentials and authenticate user identities while also cutting down time wasted on unnecessary logins and EHR technical issues. 

And speaking of authentication, medical computers and tablets with verification hardware such as RFID, CAC, and biometric scanners can also do wonders for your patient data protection. By adding a physical card or badge your staff can swipe to access data, you can provide one more layer of protection against a cyberattack.       

Medicare For All or Not, Be Prepared

Until we see where this push for Medicare For All leads, discussing preparedness is just a fun thought exercise. Fortunately, a lot of the things you can do today to prepare for that shift in healthcare can also help you prepare for many other forward-minded initiatives such as data interoperability, remote care, and more. For more information on tech and IT that can gear you up for these trends in care, contact an expert from Cybernet today.