With the state of Obamacare still unknown, forecasting the future of healthcare remains a challenge
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Regardless of what you think about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the fact that it’s future remains in limbo means that planning in the healthcare industry is challenging at best. Last week, what initially appeared as a final effort to repeal and replace Obamacare turned into another failure. Then opponents quickly pledged to try again. The result is that no one in the healthcare industry has a clue about what rules we’ll be playing under in the months and years to come. This makes strategic planning next to impossible.
As politicians play politics and posture themselves in the name of political expediency, the rest of us are left to wonder what the future holds.
If the Affordable Care Act remains in place and unscathed, the industry will continue its current trajectory. While the slope of that trajectory remains open to conjecture, at least the general direction is known.
Alternately, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, then we’re left scrambling to find a reliable basis on which to move forward. If this occurs the winners, from a business standpoint, will be those who can adapt the quickest and fill the vacuum that results. Being nimble, flexible, and quick will be the surest path to success.
However, rather than a straight-out repeal, a more likely scenario will be to tweak what is already there. The only sure thing about this path is knowing that things will change, but no one knows what will change or how much. What’s likely is that there will be winners and losers, those who gain from the changes and those who give up some of what they currently enjoy. Again, organizations that can adjust the quickest will be the ones that have the best chance of coming out ahead.
Specifically for the healthcare contact center this means being prepared to take several actions. One is being ready to quickly scale a workforce to take advantage of new opportunities and meet increased patient demand. Coupled with this is the need to train new agents quickly, as well as to teach new skills—perhaps not yet identified—to existing contact center staff. Last will be determining creative ways to meet patient needs and be appropriately compensated for doing so.
Contact centers with an entrepreneurial-minded leadership will emerge as the ones who can best navigate these changes to meet critical needs among patients and serve the healthcare industry.
The one thing I am sure of, no matter what happens, is that the healthcare contact center has the potential to be the hero.