A new Advisory Board indicates that hospital executives’ biggest priorities include easing patients’ access to care in ambulatory settings (to help keep them out of the hospital) and finding innovative ways to cut costs.
Executives are focusing on ambulatory access because they know that it’s a competitive necessity and a lower-cost way to deliver care, Ben Umansky, managing director of research at the Advisory Board, told FierceHealthcare.
The survey, done between December 2016 and January 2017, asked 180 executives about their concern about 26 topics, from preparing for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to nonmerger partnerships. Their top five concerns were:
- Improving ambulatory access (57 percent).
- Finding innovative approaches to cutting costs (57 percent).
- Boosting outpatient market share (55 percent).
- Reducing unwarranted clinical variation (54 percent).
- Controlling avoidable use of healthcare resources (49 percent).
The Advisory Board’s chief research officer, Chas Roades, said that the findings show shifting hospital and health-system priorities, due in part to healthcare-reform uncertainty.
“Improving cost-effective access for consumers, who are likely to bear more direct financial responsibility for the cost of care, will be a growing concern for healthcare providers in the coming decade. Our survey shows executives are considering new strategies to remake their cost structures to respond to the changing environment,” he said.
Mr. Umansky emphasized a common theme among the top five concerns: All require physician alignment. “You can’t do anything without the physician workforce being on board,” he said, noting that success depends on how hospital executives manage their physician networks. ”