Need more patients for your practice? When the Affordable Care Act passed, pundits were quick to declare the winners and the losers. Both columns were equally long. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the law, and whatever your political affiliation may be and whether or not you agree with the law, there’s one thing that is certain: it presents an incredible opportunity for Nevada’s providers to differentiate themselves from their peers and capture a great number of patients that simply were not there before.
Do the Math
Just look at the number of new patients entering the health care market and do the math. On the campaign trail, President Obama declares that under the Affordable Care Act, 30 million people will be added. However, non-partisan organization FactCheck.org took a look at this figure and found the President was low-balling it. According to FactCheck.org, “even if we subtract the estimated 10 million uninsured who are not U.S. citizens…with the Census Bureau now reporting 46.3 million people without insurance, one might think that the correct figure should be closer to 36.3 million citizens without insurance.”
According to the U.S. Census’ Community Population Survey, approximately 21.3 percent of Nevada residents are uninsured, compared to 16 percent nationally. A report by FamiliesUSA, released in 2009, states that figure is much higher. That report found more than one out of three people (37.2 percent or 841,000 individuals) in Nevada under the age of 65 went without health insurance for all or part of the two-year period between 2007 and 2008.
New rules included in the Affordable Care Act, combined with grants in the stimulus, dramatically reduce administrative burdens placed on physicians. Their roles make it easier for physicians to deal with insurance companies and help physicians implement their own electronic medical record system.
The Affordable Care Act is also intended to reduce the amount of time physicians spend on emergency service, freeing them up to focus on preventative care. Research shows more patients will be willing to seek treatment before they get very sick or develop life-altering illnesses because they have insurance.
So, you’ve got a big new pool of patients and you can make room for them in your practice. What now?
The most important thing to remember is that the Affordable Care Act has raised the national understanding of what quality health care is. Patients old and new are more educated about their health care and they have become smarter health care shoppers. They are now more adept at choosing a doctor and making decisions about their health care. The providers that can stand out from the crowd are going to win big in this new market.
Market to young adults. Studies show that a disproportionate number, nearly half, of the uninsured are under 30. When these individuals enter the health care market, they are going to turn primarily to the Internet to make decisions about which doctor to choose. Your website, social media outlets and entries on review sites are going to take on a new importance with this audience. They tell a comprehensive story about you as a provider that is going to inform their provider selection decision.
Geo-target. You may not want to go after all 841,000 newly insured patients in Nevada. The sheer size of the uninsured population in Nevada makes it very likely that many of them are your neighbors and live around your office. Readily available consumer information makes it easier to specifically identify the newly insured so you can whittle the patients you are targeting down to a manageable pool.
Consider an ACO. Being a part of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), a federal experiment intended to develop approaches for providing high quality care at low costs, will make you stand out in a crowded field.
For more information on how to take advantage of these developments, call MassMedia Healthcare Marketing at 702-433-4331