By Ben Keeton
Each year, Medical News talks with healthcare leaders from across the Commonwealth to get their perspective on the changing landscape of healthcare. This year, we focused on leaders within the physician community to understand the opportunities and challenges that they face in improving healthcare across Kentucky.
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From attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the opioid epidemic and a revived focus on social determinants of health, there is no shortage of stories that impact the provider community.
Attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act dominated the headlines for the first part of the year and were clearly on the minds of many of the physicians we talked to for this issue. On one hand, it is clear that the physician community would like some certainty in reimbursement and coverage of healthcare for patients. However, there is also a good bit of concern about the amount of time physicians are required to spend outside of patient care. One consistent theme from the physician community is more time with patients and less time in bureaucracy.
Not surprisingly, the opioid crisis is top of mind for many of the physicians. This epidemic reaches far beyond those suffering from addiction by putting strains on the healthcare system. This epidemic is causing the physician community to look at potentially addictive treatment options in a different way. Physicians are altering the way they practice and integrating behavioral health and substance abuse treatment within their practice. The physician community is also increasing dialogue on this conversation and working with policy makers to find new solutions.
Social determinants of health are also a hot topic this year, with a focus on improving the health outcomes for the community, not just the individual. Most physicians point to data that indicate that groups of people that have less access to resources like healthy food, consistent housing and transportation automatically have higher risks of poor health outcomes. Many physicians mentioned the need to build coalitions to help address these concerns to improve the overall health of the community.
We are pleased that so many physician leaders took time to share their insights. Take some time to get to know the leaders who are shaping our region’s healthcare.