Times have changed in healthcare finance management in the last 41 years. Four decades ago, when Hollis L. Cobb started the first collection agency in Georgia with a focus on healthcare, the medical world was quite different. Looking back on the developments in healthcare in the last 40 years, it is amazing to see how far we have journeyed and the challenges we have overcome.
Four decades ago, there was no such thing as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and today MRIs take place by the thousands every day. Within the last 40 years small pox has been declared eradicated; however AIDS was identified as a deadly disease previously unknown. Heart disease still remains the number one health issue among Americans; however the last 40 years has brought us the development of the artificial heart, the advent of coronary stents and the development of the angioplasty procedure to clear blocked arteries, along with the creation of statin drugs to combat high cholesterol. There have been tremendous strides in the orthopedic world with joint replacement surgeries, and gynecology and obstetrics has seen the development of in-vitro fertilization which brought us the first “test tube” baby.
Anyone working in healthcare finance in the last 40 years has seen the birth of DRGs (diagnosis-related groups) as well as electronic health records. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are common now as are Patient-Centered Medical Homes for sick children. The growth of nurse practitioners has made it easier for patients to book appointments more quickly with their providers, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit has helped seniors have access to their prescriptions at a more affordable price.
On the legal front, hospitals must now provide appropriate medical care to all patients regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay under EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act). The Stark Law prevents physicians from referring Medicare patients to hospitals or labs with which they have financial ties. Today patients have advanced directives or living wills to give direction to physicians at end of life.
In the insurance world, in the last 40 years, we have seen the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan or CHIP which has provided health insurance coverage for millions of children, and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) which requires employers to offer health insurance for a period of time to employees who have lost their jobs. Patients now have the option of starting an HSA (Health Savings Account), with a tax advantage, to use for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
And of course, 40 years ago, there was no HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or ACA (Affordable Care Act). Looking ahead, we already see new innovations on the horizon such as telemedicine for remote patient consultations, acute care and urgent care clinics providing more cost effective care than emergency departments, value based payment models, artificial intelligence (AI) and other creative healthcare solutions on the horizon. Hollis Cobb will continue to evolve through all the changes in the healthcare revenue cycle, providing innovative services to support our clients as we continue grow and expand our footprint nationwide.