In their article “Specialties: Missing in Our Healthcare Reform Strategies,” authors Kuramoto and Kieffer discuss the possibilities and advantages of working with specialties to create viable referral systems and networks. In the summary, they note that specialties are often in greater demand by hospitals than there are practitioners to meet that demand. Even with this distinct employment advantage, specialists often choose to remain independent from hospitals and care networks. By doing so, they create their own system which often offers higher satisfaction and better results. Despite this setup, specialists and hospitals still stand to gain significant advantages from allying with each other, particularly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
In order to follow these guidelines, our healthcare system should move quickly. First, we need to identify the medical specialists located in our area and classify them by area of expertise. By doing so, we will know exactly what resources exist in our area. Then this data should be compared with a list of specialists, which is as complete as possible, requested by our patients and primary care physicians Through this step we can identify an potential gaps in our coverage. These previously mentioned steps should be completed within the next month. Finally, in the most important step of the process, we should present the key points of this study to the specialists with which we would like to partner as well as a base set of conditions by which to negotiate the partnerships. This step will require the most care but needs to also be completed quickly so as to stay ahead of the new healthcare financial system set forth by the Affordable Care Act. As such, this step should be completed within two to three months after the initial step is completed, in order to give the best service to our patients. Of course, this process will need to be completed as necessary on a shorter time table when a new need in specialist care is identified.
This system of comprehensive care and alliance is one that Kuramoto and Kieffer predict will become more pertinent and prevalent with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. By creating this system of cooperation now, hospitals can stay ahead of the curve and make their own decisions on how this collaboration will unfold.
Kuramoto, R. K., and Kieffer, Q. L. (2014). Specialties: Missing in our healthcare reform strategies?. Journal of Healthcare Management, 59(2), 89-94.