Now that we’re into the month of March, that means one thing: About 99% of us probably have mangled our New Year’s resolutions so badly even a TV forensic scientist couldn’t identify them.

OK, maybe it’s just me and not you. But it’s still a good time to pledge to improve, and professionally, I have just the vow for you: If you’re a provider and haven’t taken serious steps toward competing in a value-based care world, promise to get your head out of the sand ASAP.

First, there’s no question you will have to compete in a value-based arena soon. The feds have famously vowed to have all Medicare beneficiaries in some kind of value-based pay plan by 2030. To that end, numerous providers are already in and growing risk-bearing groups. Think of them as cliques that don’t want to be victimized by changing government payment policies.

You don’t have to be a cool kid to enter into one of them. Just a clear-eyed, collaborative kid.

Note that the time for making excuses to not take part, or for hoping the storm will blow over, is already past. There’s a certain sense of urgency now.

As a former facility IT manager turned co-founder and CEO of a dominant digital health records company told me this week: If providers feel they can’t look up now because of their hectic schedules, that irritation is only going to grow into a freight train.

The pace of regulatory demands on managers is going to speed up, furthered PointClickCare top exec Dave Wessinger at his company’s users conference this week in New Orleans.

“They’re going to be pushed to go faster and faster, and if they’re not careful, they could create a vicious cycle of administrative burden,” he told me. 

That’s why health IT experts, federal regulators and leading nursing home lobbyists all have jumped on the value-based care bandwagon. It might be the only train out of town to safety when the forecasted regulatory mess hits.

Widespread agreement: Get smart(er)

Wessinger and peers are urging providers to become more familiar with their patient data. That will help them collaborate better with other providers and groups. Get a partner(s), get control. That can ensure a better place at the table when payment pie is served.

If a provider isn’t up to joining an Institutional-Special Needs Plan, accountable care organization or other risk-bearing attempt to scale up, it should at least become better aware of its own performance data. 

Such a focus will compel better patient outcomes and, in the long run, also make you a more attractive business partner. Besides, if you try to ignore, run from or hide your data, it may not matter: Eventually, others will become aware of it anyway in this new era.

“You really need to get into controlling your own destiny rather than relying on an Optum,” or other shot-caller, Wessinger advised. He was, of course, referring to the massive managed care player currently linked to a massive cyberattack. It also has been accused of winching down lengths of stay, prior authorizations and reimbursements 

He quickly added that an entity like Optum comes armed with its own data and “they don’t screw up,” which can lead to very difficult negotiations.

It’s important not to become paralyzed while trying to figure out what the “best” VBC model is at this point. A provider just needs to participate, in some way.

“Learn what’s right for you,” Wessinger advised. “What’s right for one, might not be right for all.”

Voracious AI, staffing cure

In related matters, he added that technology is going to continue its tornadic thrust into long-term care. For example, he said that any artificial intelligence tool PointClickCare now dabbles with makes an application about 30% more effective. He expects that figure to double within two years.

He also expressed optimism that provider staffing troubles can improve. The main solution lies in-house, he believes.

“You have to make healthcare a great place to work again. Invest in the infrastructure and team and that is the key to unlocking problems with staff,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than when a clinician does not have the info that is needed to make a decision about a person right in front of them.”

By enabling staff to work at the top of their license, satisfaction levels will rise. In turn, that should attract other employees who also want to do well.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Long-Term Care News’ Executive Editor. Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.