‘A funny thing happened to me on the way to the asylum…’

I hail from Missouri, specifically the Ozarks of Missouri.  Anyone who has ever visited this part of the country would likely agree that it is strikingly beautiful and ever-changing.  In fact, the metamorphic scenery and seasons is what makes this region so beautiful.   Nothing ever looks the same from one day to the next. The same could easily be said for the healthcare industry.  I know, calling the healthcare industry a beautiful thing might be a stretch but if you are a professional who thinks an environment that requires resourcefulness, flexibility and endurance is a beautiful thing, then you are in heaven!

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the sweeping impact of the legislative changes created by HIPAA, HITEC and ARRA. These monolithic pieces of legislation don’t move at a glacial pace however.  They spread like wildfire and they are no respecter of  person or position.  Daily, we hear of the failings of pedestrian and premier facilities alike.  The challenges facing this industry today are great and numerous and no one seems to ever be prepared enough – if ever there was such a state.

Sure, nostalgia takes over a bit as we look back on some of the past challenges – think Y2K.  We all took our turn in the pulpit crying “the sky is falling”, certain that our lives were forever about to change as the clock rounded midnight.  If we were all absolutely honest with each other we might even admit that we were all a little disappointed that the sky didn’t fall and that midnight came and went somewhat, if not entirely, uneventfully.  Take heart though my fire and brimstone friends – we’ll have our chance again to preach to the masses as we consider the implications of ICD-10 – think Y2K on steroids.  There is little doubt that this event is more genuinely impactful by comparison.  We have our Canadian colleagues to the north to thank for their early warning.  By comparison, even the most optimistic outlook of the impact of ICD-10 on productivity and staffing is nightmarish.  Considering the fact that Canada’s precipitous decline in productivity was limited to the impact of ICD-10-CM alone, we’ve got a rude awakening ahead of us if we don’t at least consider the additional impact of PCS.

Currently, we’re scrambling to embrace the challenges and implications of 5010 readiness, EHR implementations, medical necessity, RAC and meaningful use – just to name a few.  These challenges, like seasons, march on whether we like it or not.  No doubt, it makes our professional lives more exciting and, after we make it through a particularly challenging season, more rewarding.  I mean really, who wants to do the same-old-same-old every day?  Just remember your mantra… “I love change, I live for change, change is good” and you’ll be OK.  Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt to keep a fresh supply of tissues, a bottle of aspirin and your colleagues on speed dial either.

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