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Managing Healthcare Costs, Data Analytics Top C-Suite Priorities

With a new political landscape, healthcare executives plan to focus on controlling healthcare costs and integrating data from across the organization, a Premier survey showed.

Healthcare executives named healthcare cost management and data integration as their top priorities under the Trump administration, a Premier survey found

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By Jacqueline Belliveau

- Under the Trump administration, the healthcare industry is bracing for some significant policy changes, such as a potential Affordable Care Act repeal. Despite the political change, healthcare executives still plan to make healthcare cost management their number one priority, according to a recent Premier survey.

In terms of controlling healthcare costs, the survey of 63 healthcare C-suite executives revealed that leaders are prioritizing productivity improvements and healthcare supply chain cost reductions amidst recent political changes.

About 65 percent of respondents said that their organization anticipates increasing or substantially increasing efforts to control care management costs. No C-suite participants planned to decrease their investments in this area.

Another 61 percent stated that their organization plans to focus on healthcare supply chain cost reductions by managing their increased drug spending. No respondents said their organization planned to “decrease focus on this area.”

A November 2016 Premier survey showed that healthcare supply chain spending challenged organizations. About 66 percent of healthcare executives in the survey expected their annual supply chain investment to increase over the next three years.

The next top priority for healthcare C-suiters under the Trump administration was integrating supply chain, financial, and clinical care data to develop more meaningful insights. A little over half (53 percent) of respondents expect to increase efforts to integrate data from disparate sources and/or boost investments in data analytics tools.

One-half of healthcare executives also plan to combine disparate data by making moves to improve interoperability between legacy health IT systems in their organization.

With more integrated data, about 47 percent of respondents expect to use health IT to participate in risk-based contracts.

No respondents said that their organization plans to decrease their health IT efforts or investments under the new political landscape.

The survey also indicated that healthcare executives do not think that the patient engagement push will wane under the Trump administration. About 45 percent of respondents reported that their organization will increase or substantially increase patient engagement investments and no respondents indicated that their organization would reduce investments.

The most popular strategy for boosting patient engagement was through telehealth, according to 56 percent of C-suiters.

Similarly, the survey suggested that healthcare executives also believe that the value-based purchasing transition will hold strong despite a potential Affordable Care Act repeal and new political landscape.  The fourth top priority for healthcare C-suiters was continuing the shift to population health and risk-based value-based purchasing.

As part of their value-based purchasing strategy, about 45 percent of survey participants anticipated increasing the number of post-acute care services they offer through strategic partnerships with other providers and care settings.

Another 40 percent also plan to expand their healthcare team employment structures to include more care coordinators, clinical pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare extenders.

The most recent survey results echoed the November 2016 survey findings. In the earlier survey, staffing shortages topped healthcare executive challenges with 51 percent saying that their organization does not have an adequate supply of healthcare extenders to manage the value-based care transition.

All respondents in the most recent survey expect to either maintain or increase their investments with value-based purchasing. Although, less than five percent said they were unsure.

Rounding out the top five priority areas was quality reporting and management. Approximately 46 percent of healthcare executives reported that their organization expects to increase or substantially increase their use of quality reporting systems for public payers.

With MACRA’s Quality Payment Program in its first performance year, quality reporting system implementation will be key to submitting data to the program’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to avoid a negative Medicare payment adjustment in 2019.

Over one-third (36 percent) also plan to extend their quality reporting system use to commercial payers.

While quality reporting was a major focus area for healthcare executives, this was the one area in which some respondents said they might decrease their focus or investments.

“Health systems continue to pay attention to quality reporting and management, but this has clearly become a part of the standard operating practice for healthcare leaders and is requiring less focus and attention,” Premier stated.

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