Federal Requirements Leave Healthcare Organizations Frustrated and Powerless

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If you as a healthcare executive are frustrated with the quality improvements that have been made by your organization still not being enough to satisfy the federal government, then don’t worry, Alicia Caramenico writes over at FierceHealthcare. You’re not alone.

“With a national effort to improve care and cut costs, healthcare providers have a lot of opportunity to explore new innovations and healthcare delivery models–and have a right to be proud of their efforts,” she writes. “Yet some recent articles in FierceHealthcare suggest there are plenty of reasons for those driving these efforts to feel discouraged.”

Hospitals are improving their quality scores, she observes, but still getting shellacked by readmissions penalties by Medicare. Moreover, reimbursement cuts won’t be prevented by quality-care improvements, “… since Medicare is basing the first round of penalties on patients who were discharged between July 2008 and June 2011.”

This, after many hospitals have focused intensely on reducing readmissions (as we have documented in the past here at HCE) to the point where some are now saying they’ve maxed out their efforts, there’s nothing left to give in that area.

But say you don’t have your reimbursements cut because you have achieved lower readmission rates that satisfy Medicare. Is there a bonus, an incentive, a reward of some kind that will acknowledge your efforts?

Plain and simply…no.

This means, Caramenico writes, “even the so-called winners under the readmission reduction program are losers…”

Those still struggling with low patient-safety scores are equally frustrated as well. They’re trying everything within their resources, but the methodologies used  “…fail to reflect their current efforts.”

On the provider side, physicians are discouraged and pessimistic to the point where they’re retiring, sometimes prematurely. Their levels of pessimism and cynicism have reached all-time highs, it would seem, “…with 82 percent saying they feel powerless to change the U.S. healthcare system.”

I would add that most are also still reeling from the lack of input they had with healthcare reform, the very standards under which they’re now burdened.

Caramenico concludes, “It’s not all that surprising to read reports that almost half of U.S. physicians suffer from burnout. Let’s hope we don’t end up with hospitals and entire health systems burning out on increased quality and reimbursement pressure.”


We would recommend you go to her article. It’s rife with links backing up all of her assertions and observations.

Then, give us your input. What do you, the hospital executives, have to say about these trends among healthcare organizations and professionals? Are you discouraged and frustrated over the federal measures applied to your quality-improvement efforts? What is your perspective on the future of the industry?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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