Survey: Will Obamacare Make Healthcare Better?

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OBC-thumb6The news surrounding healthcare reform in the latter half of 2013 has been largely negative, but negative press is not always indicative of how healthcare leaders feel on the local level.

In an unscientific survey of 74 C-Suite executives, Health Affairs found enough anecdotal evidence that healthcare leaders are largely optimistic about the impact reform will have on their respective organizations, reports Ezra Klein at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. The executives who were surveyed represented organizations that “employed 8,520 workers and saw annual revenues of $1.5 billion.”

Overall, Klein writes, these executives “think health reform is going to make the healthcare they deliver a whole lot better—and a bit cheaper.”

From the survey: “Fully 65 percent indicated that by 2020, they believe the healthcare system as a whole will be somewhat or significantly better than it is today. And when they were asked about their own institutions, the optimism was even more dramatic. Fully 93 percent predicted that the quality of care provided by their own health system would improve. This is probably related to efforts to diminish hospital acquired conditions, medication errors, and unnecessary readmissions, as encouraged by financial penalties in the ACA.”

There were similar positive responses to cost control (91 percent see “improvements on metrics of cost within their own health system by 2020”) and per patient operating costs. Cobbling all of the executives’ estimates together (0 to 30 percent), Klein reports that the average operating cost reduction expected by these executives is 11.7 percent.

“Most executives believed they could save an even higher percentage if Congress enacted legislation to accelerate the shift away from fee-for-service payment toward models like bundled payments,” Klein reports. “In such a case, the executives projected average annual savings of 16.0 percent, which, if applied across the healthcare system, would amount to savings of nearly $100 billion per year.”

The top three savings strategies most recommended by these executives were: the reduction of hospitalization numbers, the reduction of readmissions numbers, and the reduction of ER visits. Receiving honorable mention were reducing costs on medical devices and drugs and increasing the efficiency of the back office.

Finally, the surveyed executives believe that “setting a specified timeline for transitioning Medicare reimbursement off of the fee-for-service payment system…aligning payment policies between Medicare and private insurers…separating funds for training and research from Medicare payment and maintaining current funding levels” are the most effective ways to achieve these cost savings.

Are you one of these optimistic executives? If so, what positive impact are you expecting Obamacare to have on your organization?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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