Shift Happens–Advocating for Value-Based Health Care

For years, health care in the U.S. has been volume-based. Meaning, providers are reimbursed for providing a service, regardless of the results—putting more emphasis on the process than the patient.

Recently, health care has started shifting to a more value-based system that incorporates the outcomes of services provided as part of the reimbursement process. By shifting to a value-based health care model, practitioners can lower costs, while simultaneously improving patient care.

Outcomes Is as Important as Best Practices

As a student, you may be learning about the “best practices” of diagnosing and treating a given disorder. However, if there’s no evidence-based practice or documented outcomes to support the approach, what good is it?

While it’s important to learn about the science of audiology and speech-language pathology, you must also know the importance of knowing the relevant outcomes, and how to document these outcomes to demonstrate value.

Once you’re armed with not just the practical knowledge, but also the outcome measurements (e.g., NOMS), you’ll be well-prepared to work in any setting.

Value-Based Health Care

The sooner we, as a profession, make the decision to switch to Alternative Payment Models that are value-based, the sooner providers will be empowered and energized to collaborate with other value-driven organizations, like The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (as a payer) and The Mayo Clinic (as a provider). Failure to embrace the consumer revolution of value-based health care may leave providers “late to the dance” with no one to collaborate with. Like musical chairs, when the “volume music” stops, we may not have a seat at the “value table.”

There are many opportunities for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to become more value-based, while also becoming more efficient and patient-centric. Outcomes may include improved communication skills, safe and healthy patient discharge, and patients’ return to work or school, just to name a few.

Advocating for Value-Based Health Care within the Professions

You probably already have experience advocating for yourselves—whether for a grade, a placement, or some other academic decision. Now that you’re on the verge of becoming practitioners, it’s important to engage in issues that affect the professions as a whole, like moving toward a value-based health care service model. And those of you in schools and academia aren’t off the hook! We may expect a similar emphasis on value to emerge in all areas of our professions.

Here are a few ways to get involved:

Check out how Howard University plans on advocating in the blog post, Raising Our Voices Now to Advocate for Our Future Professions

At the end of the day, it’s not about the provider, but the patient/client. It’s not about the process, but the outcome. It’s not about the savings, but the total cost of patient care.

It benefits all health care providers, including audiologists and speech-language pathologist, to learn about the value-based health care system. And it’s important for pre-professionals like you to join the movement before entering the workforce.

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