By Stephen H. Siegel
Included in the training of new Assistant United States Attorneys is a saying: “proper preparation prevents poor performance” (the “5 Ps”). This saying is applicable to both our personal and professional lives.
For example, many of us prepared for our first “major” hurricane in over a decade. Those who lived within the projected path of Hurricane Matthew faced the choice of doing nothing or taking minimal precautions and hoping for the best, or taking more aggressive measures such as putting up shutters if they did not have storm windows. In large part, the level of our effort and concern was a function of how well we had prepared in advance.
Similarly, healthcare providers need to recognize the importance of planning and preparation for business risks. Some risk areas are rarely ignored, perhaps because they are integral to the practice of medicine. Other potential risks may be overlooked because they are outside of medical training programs, or seem too remote, expensive, or complicated to address. These risks include changes in the manner in which professional medical services are reimbursed, complying with regulatory requirements, and cybersecurity.
As with hurricanes, evaluating a risk depends on its likelihood of occurring. It is only after the risk has passed, that it becomes possible to evaluate the actual harm. As we approach the end of this year and begin preparing for the next, some of the risks that all healthcare providers need to be anticipated include cybersecurity, malware, ransomware and OCR audits, and the “60-Day Rule”. In addition, for physicians – MACRA and how it will impact their reimbursement. (Hint: If you are not familiar with any of these risks, you probably need to get up to speed quickly!)
A basic step in dealing with any of these, or any other, potential risk is assembling a team of professionals (attorneys, accountants, software consultants, billing experts, etc.). Ideally, this team will be assembled before it becomes necessary to call on their expertise. Thus, like hurricane shutters, it will not be necessary to scramble in order to identify and retain team members while simultaneously dealing with a crisis. The saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance” should serve as an important guideline in both business and life.