New rules, regulations set to take hold in healthcare industry

The healthcare industry in the U.S. is under a spotlight. From the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the spread of infectious diseases, how hospitals, insurers and other providers operate is now more important than ever.

As a member of the healthcare industry yourself, you know the ups and downs that come with working in this sector. New rules, regulations, trends and developments appear on a frequent basis, and how you handle these events is incredibly vital for your business. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it is more important than ever to stay up-to-date with what is happening around the country.

However, that can be easier said than done. Here at Clark Schaefer Hackett, we know that you are busy. Since it can be hard to pay attention to the news in today’s shifting climate, we’ve dedicated a portion of our time to helping you with this cause.

Here are several key events that are affecting the healthcare industry, so you can have a better understanding of the current environment:

Yearly gains reported in healthcare spending
Healthcare spending has moderately increased on a yearly basis across the country. According to a report compiled by Altarum Institute, much of the growth noted over the past 12 months has been related to the ACA and an improved economy.

The findings showed that national health spending was up 4.9 percent from August 2013 to August 2014. The health spending share of the gross domestic product (GDP) was 17.4 percent in July of this year. When the economic recession began back in December 2007, that figure was 16 percent. Hospital spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $962 billion this past August, good for 32 percent of total healthcare spending that month.

Altarum also reported that the fastest growing segment for healthcare spending was prescription drugs – up 10.6 percent over the past year – while the slowest belonged to physician and clinical services and home healthcare, tied at 2.3 percent.

ICD-10 implementation on the horizon
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) will soon see another revision take effect in the healthcare industry. Each time, the World Health Organization (WHO) updates its list of codes for diagnoses and diseases for use by members of this sector across the country.

Implementation of ICD-10 is incredibly important for healthcare providers. Falling behind with compliance can impact the company’s efficiency, affect patient care and create additional problems. To gauge the state of the industry, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) conducted a survey this August of 514 participants  – including providers, vendors and health plans.

The results found that preparedness has improved, but is still lacking overall ahead of the Oct. 1, 2015 compliance deadline. Vendors and health plans are in front of providers, with 75 percent of health plans completing impact assessments already, compared to only 50 percent for providers.

“Based on the survey results, all industry segments appear to have made some progress since October 2013, but the lack of progress by providers, in particular smaller ones, remains a cause for concern as we move toward the compliance deadline,” Jim Daley, WEDI chairman and ICD-10 Workgroup co-chair, said in a statement. “Delaying compliance efforts reduces the time available for adequate testing, increasing the chances of unanticipated impacts to production.”

New rules help facilitate drug disposal
In the past, patients who had access to unused or unwanted prescription medication had limited options for disposal. Now, thanks to finalized new rules from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), authorized collection facilities can make removal of dangerous drugs an easier task.

Collectors can include hospitals with on-site pharmacy services, retail pharmacies and other healthcare practices. Soon, more organizations could become go-to resources for prescription drug disposal.

“These new regulations will expand the public’s options to safely and responsibly dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” said DEA administrator Michele Leonhart. “The new rules will allow for around-the-clock, simple solutions to this ongoing problem.  Now everyone can easily play a part in reducing the availability of these potentially dangerous drugs.”

Companies that want to become authorized must register with the DEA and adhere to the collection rules outlined by the agency. Moving forward, it is important for organizations to review their prescription drug protocols and regulations.

Overall, these developments are a small part of the healthcare industry as a whole. Even so, they provide a picture of the current climate in this sector and what healthcare organizations can expect in the near future. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact our healthcare experts at Clark Schaefer Hackett today. We can work with you for a variety of healthcare-related needs.

© 2014

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