Healthcare News & Insights

Top issues for healthcare executives right now

With all the trends affecting the current healthcare climate, hospital executives have a lot on their minds – and it can be tough to know which areas of concern deserve the most attention. A new survey gives insight into the most significant issues your peers are focusing on right now. 

dv2171019The Advisory Board Company, a research and consulting firm, just released the results of its annual Health Care CEO Survey.

According to a news release, over 200 C-suite executives were asked to rate the importance of the issues faced by many hospitals today.

Executives ranked their top concern as engaging physicians in reducing clinical variation. Over half (53%) of healthcare CEOs mentioned this area as a major priority for their institutions.

Avoiding care variation for patients with the same condition is critical to improving outcomes, which helps a hospital meet benchmarks for value-based care.

Most hospitals either take a vertical or horizontal approach to identifying and reducing clinical variation. The vertical approach looks at improving a hospital’s performance for a specific condition or cohort of patients. A horizontal approach focuses more on reducing the costs of resources across multiple conditions (such as drugs or imaging).

Whatever approach is chosen, it can be challenging to get doctors on board with making improvements.

Hospitals can improve their chances at success by making physicians feel as though they have an equal voice in the decision making process. Giving them representation at the leadership table is important to making them feel engaged in any changes made to reduce variation and improve care.

More big issues

Other top concerns reported by healthcare executives in the survey were:

  • redesigning health systems services for population health (52%)
  • meeting increasing consumer expectations for service (47%)
  • implementing patient engagement strategies (45%), and
  • controlling avoidable utilization (44%).

Controlling avoidable utilization and redesigning health system services for population health are two areas that have become more important to healthcare executives over time. Both jumped five percentage points from last year’s survey. This is likely due to the increasing focus on alternative payment models such as bundled payments for one episode of care.

Implementing patient engagement strategies is also an issue that’s rising in importance, ranking four percentage points higher than it did for executives last year.

Patient engagement is important to a hospital’s success under alternative payment models. More and more, hospitals and other healthcare providers are being tasked to help patients take control of their own health – and they’re facing financial consequences if it doesn’t happen.

CEOs’ concerns are changing in direct response to the new priorities in health care. According to a news briefing from the Advisory Board, two areas of concern, strengthening primary care physician alignment and utilizing direct-to-employer contracting, fell out of the top five this year.

And there’s one rising area to watch: Developing consumer-focused pricing strategies to provide patients with accurate price estimates for services. Thirty-one percent of healthcare CEOs ranked this concern as a major priority, and this number will likely grow as the changes brought about by healthcare reform drive more patients to treat their health care as a consumer purchase.

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