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

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Yesterday, we looked at the first three areas of an Industry Survey conducted by HealthLeaders Media that examined several challenges and issues confronting healthcare leaders in 2013. Today, we look at the final three areas of that survey. The information below is based on an article written by Margaret Dick Tocknell.


Fourth, the greatest threats facing healthcare leaders are reimbursement and physician shortages.

This section of the survey covered areas of healthcare that leaders saw as threats. Not surprisingly, reduced reimbursements came in first with 92 percent of healthcare leaders ranking it as their “greatest threat.” This was followed by the physician-shortage crisis at 76 percent.

Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), is a major advocate of combating these shortages with patient-centered medical homes and the provision of care extenders that “will allow physicians to practice at the top of their license,” Tocknell writes. He told her that “we may find that we actually have an adequate supply of physicians in most cases.”

Unfortunately, there is also a shortage of care extenders, since most are usually nurses, a field that is experiencing its own degree of shortages. RNs tend to also be occupied elsewhere, since healthcare reform sees them as “integral to population health management efforts and reducing 30-day readmissions,” Tocknell adds.

Fifth, healthcare leaders are focused on cost control.

The three top areas in which industry leaders are focused on cutting costs are process improvement at 80 percent, labor efficiencies at 62 percent, and supply-chain efficiencies at 57 percent. Many organizations, like MSHA, are adopting Lean programs

At MSHA, Tocknell reveals, “a consulting firm has embedded full-time workers into the system to teach the Lean process and make it part of the culture. MSHA expects to have 2,000 of its employees involved in ‘rapid-improvement events’ associated with various value streams by midyear.”

Finally, healthcare leaders are looking for ways to fuel growth at their organization.

Three of the areas healthcare leaders are looking to grow include outpatient services (57 percent), entering into joint ventures (41 percent), and acquiring physician practices (38 percent).

Some leaders like Louis Papoff, vice president and CFO of ambulatory operations in the Chicago market of Nashville-based Vanguard Health Systems, believe that ACOs have spurred “interest in outpatient services,” Tocknell writes. “The ACO approach of improving the quality of outcomes while cutting costs is ‘a value proposition. The objective is a reduction in bottom-line costs for the patient pertaining to an unnecessary or avoidable hospital admission.’” Papof “points to the consideration of service lines for behavioral health and nutritional counseling as ‘a confluence of multiple approaches that are beginning to gel into one prevailing trend.’”

What are your thoughts on the survey results? How is your organization looking to confront these issues, while cutting costs and promoting growth?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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