Build A Health-Care Practice Now

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Tip O'Neill had it right when he said all politics is local. These days, politics and the economy go hand in hand and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Like it or not, it's prudent to be thinking more about how to shift your business strategy with the political wind.

There is going to be a major change to the health-care system in this country. The Obama administration is committed to dismantling the current system in favor of a government-controlled health-care plan. With the Democrats firmly in control of all branches of the federal government, there is no stopping it.

So it's time to think about whether you want to try to benefit by the shift.

First realize that there is going to be a lot of government money thrown around, much more than we will be led to believe. Anytime the government gets involved, it costs more than expected. The government drug program instituted under the Bush administration was supposed to cost $200 billion a year, and it has already ballooned to $600 billion.

The $650 billion being touted as a down payment to get the government-controlled health-care system rolling is going to be chump change before the feds are finished. We are talking trillions of dollars here annually once it gets rolling. Whether you are for or against government-controlled health care, there is going to be a lot of money spent on this. All of your vendor suppliers will be chasing this, so why not join them?

There is no doubt in my mind that once the government controls the health-care system it is going to force the digitization of health-care records, forms, payments, etc.

The government-dictated health-care IT network is going to become enormous but, more importantly, it is going to be regulated. And we are talking recurring revenue, being generated backed up by the full faith and resources of the U.S. government. That's some sugar daddy.

So how do you get ready for this?

First, if you haven't built a health-care practice yet, get moving. There are lots of specialties/niches to choose from, so spend some time exploring. Once you've decided on a concentration, look to the vendor community to help you access the right solution stack. Government control will likely mean government standards, so you will need to watch this unfold and pick vendors that are on top of the changes as they come down from mountain (oops, I mean Capitol Hill).

Get better at financing and cash flow management. The reason for this is simple. Government bureaucracy and speed are not synonymous, so you are going to be looking at receivables being stretched out. It may make sense to explore a relationship with banks and other financing organizations that purchase receivables. You'll take a margin hit, but your cash flow will be consistent. Vendors will be willing to help but that comes with a different price -- including required minimum attach rates of the supplier's equipment.

I hate to say it, but you are also going to have to "get connected" politically. Government control is anything but innocent. Having the ability to get your local congressman to place a well-timed call to a particular government body or private entity that depends on government approval to shake something loose can't hurt you.

Lastly, if you have any elective surgeries you have been putting off -- like a little bit of work on that knee or perhaps a hip replacement -- it's best to get that out of the way this year before the government waiting list gets too long. (I figured I'd throw out that last true statement to generate some hate mail, so have at it.)

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