Healthcare News & Insights

5 rules hospital decision makers must follow

Hospitals that want to have the most success in the new healthcare climate need leaders with a long-term view of their operations. This view is critical for healthcare executives to make informed decisions that’ll ensure their facilities’ success. 

healthcare-meetingBut because there are many areas that hospital leaders can focus on regarding healthcare delivery, it’s often tough to know where to start.

Keys to success

Dr. Paul Keckley, the managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, recently wrote a column for the American Hospital Association’s blog that provides some insight into how healthcare executives can make the smartest decisions for their hospitals’ future.

To achieve the best results down the line, Dr. Keckley said hospital leaders need to follow these five rules for decision making:

  1. Cost is the biggest issue. Profits are important. But the current cost of health care needs to be addressed. It’s the most significant factor shaping the future of healthcare delivery. Costs are rising at unprecedented rates – and they aren’t sustainable. Government agencies like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are already cracking down on healthcare costs by pushing initiatives such as bundled payments and pricing transparency. With that in mind, hospitals need to place the bulk of their long-term focus on providing top-notch care while reducing expenses.
  2. Treat physicians as partners. Keckely said it concisely: “Physicians want security and an active role in leadership.” Hospitals couldn’t survive without the work of dedicated providers who do their best to give patients quality care. Their work should be acknowledged, and their voices should be heard when making critical management decisions. An upper-level physician presence on your hospital’s board or executive team can make all the difference toward making doctors feel more invested in their hospital’s success.
  3. Build better relationships with local employers. Employers play a significant role in healthcare delivery – they provide insurance to thousands of hospital patients. And just as patients are paying more for health care, these employers are also shouldering higher costs. Not only are they worried about rising costs, they’re demanding more information about health care than ever before – including data about how well local hospitals are performing in relation to their competitors. They can use this info to narrow the networks for the plans they offer workers, encouraging them to seek care at certain facilities over others. That’s why it’s critical to reach out to local companies so they can take your hospital’s perspective into account when making these decisions.
  4. Think beyond Medicare. Millions of patients are covered by Medicare. And non-Medicare payors often follow CMS’ lead when establishing rules, regulations and standards for care. Assuming all third-party payors operate the same way as Medicare isn’t a wise approach. For starters, Medicare mostly focuses on seniors, but private payors have patients of all ages and backgrounds. And because they’re spending more on deductibles, copays and premiums than the typical Medicare patient, those with private insurance are more likely to take a more consumer-minded approach to health care. Private payors themselves are also more consumer-focused than Medicare, looking at ways to maximize their profits while minimizing financial risk. Hospital leaders need to understand – and adapt to – this way of thinking.
  5. Create health systems, and not just with hospitals. Improving the continuum of care will be a high priority for all payors going forward. With that in mind, hospitals must go beyond their walls and think of healthcare delivery as a group effort. Partnering with physician practices or other hospitals to create a health system is common, but a true health system also has close partnerships with pharmacies, urgent care centers, academic researchers and payors. Because the focus of health care is changing to concentrate on keeping patients well – as opposed to just treating them when they’re ill – creating programs and initiatives focused on healthy living and general wellness should be at the forefront of hospital executives’ minds.

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