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:
- Educate Yourself. Start by reading the New England Journal of Medicine’s article, “What Is Value in Health Care?”
- Find an Advocacy Mentor. Reach out to a professor or advisor who might be willing to serve as an advocacy mentor and engage in advocacy together.
- Form an Advocacy Committee. Create a committee within your local NSSLHA Chapter and plan advocacy events throughout the year.
- Contact Your State Association. Learn about opportunities to volunteer at the state level.
- Advocate through NSSLHA. Participate in Student Hill Day or Virtual Advocacy Day, run for the Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy position on the Executive Council when it opens again in 2019, or apply for the Legislative Liaison of the Year Award.
- Follow ASHA’s Advocacy Team. Visit ASHA’s Take Action website; follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube; subscribe to the Federal Advocacy Network’s email policy updates; submit an application to be considered for a one-year term on ASHA’s Government Relations and Public Policy Board.
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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.