For the 32nd consecutive year, The University of Alabama’s Office of Media Relations offers predictions from faculty experts for the coming year.
The upcoming year will bring significant changes in health care, according to Dr. Marilyn Whitman, assistant professor and coordinator of the undergraduate healthcare management program at The University of Alabama.
“The Affordable Care Act, with its full implementation coming to light by 2014, will cause what (psychiatrist/author) Elizabeth Kubler Ross described as the five stages of grief,” says Whitman, a professor in UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.
“Arguably, the country is largely in shock over the upcoming changes,” Whitman says. “In many ways, we are paralyzed and numb to the news, and many states are still in denial about the changes. Inevitably, 2013 will see the remaining stages of anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance.
“How soon we move though the stages will determine how successful we will be in the coming year,” she says. “These upcoming changes will have long lasting effects, the most significant being that it will alter the continuum of care from policy making to care at the bedside,” Whitman says.
Additionally, Whitman says, 2013 will bring the final wave of healthcare providers opting to adopt electronic health systems in order to take advantage of the federal monetary incentives. The meaningful use component of this will become increasingly more complex, and providers will soon have to succumb to system audits.
Moreover, Recovery Audit Contractor audits will be conducted more broadly and frequently as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ramp up their efforts to combat fraud and abuse. Finally, many states will be forced to contend with rising Medicaid expenditures and subsequent budget shortfalls.
“One thing I am hopeful for is a fundamental change in the way we look at healthcare,” Whitman says. “We need to begin determining success in this country by the reduction in illness and morbidities of our population, instead of the number of robotic procedures performed per year.
“The issue of preventable diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer need to be at the forefront so that government – on a national, state and local level – begins to improve the overall health of our population.
“As the proverbial saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is undeniable that the rate of current healthcare spending is unsustainable. Unfortunately,” Whitman says, “it is unlikely that 2013 will mark the beginning of a downward spending trend.”