Viewpoint: What will healthcare look like in the future?

It's time to take a look at the state of healthcare.

What exactly the future holds remains to be seen, of course. Most likely, you have an opinion, and so do some of the other experts we consulted for articles that appear in this issue. Among those visions:

Whatever your view of the future, if you're like the doctors described in a recent report by the Physicians Foundation, right now you may be experiencing low morale because of your practice finance situation and the lack of progress that has been made under healthcare reform.

Or maybe you're transitioning from a paper-based practice to an electronic one and are trying to find a way to maintain practice productivity-and revenues-in the process.

And your practice most likely is discussing moving to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision-ICD-10-a crucial link to receiving payment for the services you provide in the future.

While you're planning for that conversion, government efforts to crack down on fraud may have you on edge as you try to avoid making an honest error in your current system.

And if you're a new physician, you may be facing personal financial issues in the form of medical school debt the size of a home mortgage.

It's a challenging time to be a doctor. But there's hope for those PCPs who can hang on just a little while longer-even those who want to remain independent. On the horizon is the growing use of the PCMH, which favor PCPs because they are experienced in managing patients' overall health, and direct-pay models, which have the potential to free you from public and private payer reimbursement concerns.

So what should you do between the present and the future? Lockwood and Goodman call for increased physician advocacy in the areas of healthcare system and tort reform as well as reimbursement. Also needed, they say, is increased flexibility as a new system emerges with improved quality and outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, decreased waste, and more efficiencies.

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