Industry Survey Reveals Goals and Priorities of Healthcare Leaders (Part 1 of 2)

by webadmin on February 26, 2013

HealthLeaders Media recently conducted its 2013 Industry Survey and discovered that healthcare leaders “are still in a quandary: unhappy about the healthcare industry as a whole but convinced that their own organizations are moving in the right direction,” reports Margaret Dick Tocknell.

The majority believe the industry is still “on the wrong track,” but “the percent of respondents who think the industry is on the right track increased from 25 percent to 32 percent from 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile, the percentage of naysayers dropped from 46 percent to 39 percent during the comparable time period.”

However, 71 percent of healthcare leaders think their own organizations are on the right track, Tocknell writes, and are confident in their ability to grow, lead, and unite staff around organizational goals.

Tocknell explains, “From process improvement to population management and care coordination, survey respondents are aware of the opportunities (and threats) posed by the shifting healthcare landscape, and they are taking the steps necessary to capitalize on the changes,” with 64 percent viewing value-based purchasing as “their organization’s greatest opportunity, just behind health-information exchanges” at 78 percent.

However, leaders realize the landscape is shifting under new payment models and shrinking reimbursements. In the words of Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), “Our concern is, can we reduce our costs fast enough, as fast as reimbursements are coming down and as fast as volumes are coming down, and still have a positive bottom line?”

Tocknell further elaborated on six areas that were covered by the survey. We’ll look at the first three today and examine the final three tomorrow.

First, industry leaders are focused on strategic planning.

MSHA, for example, is preparing to lose as much as 30 percent of its inpatient volume under population health management. Therefore, Tocknell reports, “The organization’s 10-year strategic plan shifts the patient treatment focus away from expensive episodic care in hospitals and emergency departments to more reliance on disease management protocols and frequent patient contact with primary care physicians.”

Vonderfecht told her that MSHA is increasingly focused on ambulatory outpatient and retail medicine, since “it is common sense that you are trying to keep people healthy instead of trying to treat sick people.”

Second, industry leaders are establishing patient experience and satisfaction as their highest priority.

Most of the respondents to the survey placed patient experience and satisfaction as their top priority. Tocknell said this is consistent with last year’s survey results, adding, “With the introduction of value-based purchasing and its link to HCAHPS, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has certainly turned up the heat to transform patient satisfaction from a marketing opportunity to a meaningful measure with clear fiscal implications.”

Other priorities for healthcare leaders include care models, such as population health and medical home, physician-hospital alignment, clinical quality, and cost reduction and process improvement.

Third, care coordination or the continuum of care is challenging leaders in unprecedented ways.

Tocknell said this area was “ranked as the single greatest challenge for clinical quality improvement by 24 percent of survey respondents,” especially since this area is “viewed by many as the future of healthcare and the process that will enable the realization of the triple aim—improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.”

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the final three areas. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the survey’s results? How do they reflect your organization’s goals, priorities, and concerns?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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