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Staffing Shortages, Healthcare Reform Top C-Suite Concerns

By Jacqueline Belliveau

- Healthcare C-suite executives identified staffing shortages and healthcare reform as having the largest impact of their organization’s ability to delivery care, a recent Premier survey found.

Staffing shortages and healthcare reform topped C-suite concerns this fall, Premier reported

About 41 percent of the 52 C-suite level respondents at healthcare organizations across the nation said their organization was challenged by healthcare employment issues, followed by healthcare reform, such as population health management, with 24 percent of respondents.

“While health reform has been ranked most influential on care delivery by healthcare leaders in past years, staffing shortages now lead the way as the top concern,” the report stated.

Staffing shortages topped the list in fall 2016, but the most recent figure represents a 42 percent increase since spring 2016, Premier reported.

Recent primary care physician and healthcare support staff shortages are driving healthcare employment challenges facing hospitals and health systems, the survey showed. Approximately 72 percent of respondents said that the number of primary care physicians at their organizations was inadequate to meet their needs over the next three years.

Another 51 percent of executives reported that their organization does not have an adequate supply of “healthcare extenders,” such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Hospital mergers and acquisitions may have exacerbated healthcare employment and physician productivity issues, added researchers. A majority of executives (95 percent) reported operational and cultural challenges associated with mergers and acquisitions, leading to physician productivity and integration problems.

While staffing shortages ranked higher this fall, healthcare reform still had a major impact on care delivery, especially as organizations moved to value-based reimbursement. Nearly 81 percent of C-suite executives stated that their organization was “successfully managing” the transition from fee-for-service reimbursement to alternative payment models.

As healthcare organizations moved away from fee-for-service, executives also reported success with quality reporting, a major component of value-based reimbursement. About 94 percent said their organization was successful at reporting performance-based metrics.

The value-based reimbursement transition, however, brought new healthcare cost management considerations in the fall of 2016, particularly with supply chain management. Sixty-seven percent of respondents thought their annual supply chain investment will increase over the next three years.

In response to anticipated supply chain boosts, 83 percent of executives stated that risk-based contracting will become more important to supply chain teams over the next three years.

More healthcare executives also plan on standardizing provider preferences, a significant cost driver in supply chain management. Most leaders (98 percent) said they expect to further standardize preference item purchases over the next three years.

Another supply chain management challenge in the fall of 2016 was pharmaceutical prices, the survey showed. Ninety percent of respondents pinpointed prescription drug price increases and drug shortages as major obstacles for their organizations.

Premier noted that the number of executives reporting pharmaceutical-related challenges has held steady since the fall of 2015.

Additionally, the survey explored how C-suite leaders plan to invest capital budgets. For the sixth year in a row, health IT and telecommunications topped the priority investment area list with 70 percent of executives planning to focus on this area.

Executives may be planning to invest more in health IT as their organizations become more comfortable with using existing technologies, such as EHR systems and data sharing capabilities. Approximately 90 percent reported that their organization is improving user comfort with EHRs, while 80 percent said they can access ambulatory data from their employed physician networks.

However, researchers found that healthcare organizations still have some ways to go in terms of health IT. Only 59 percent of executives reported that they are able to access ambulatory data from their affiliate physician networks.

Another 59 percent also said their organization was not successfully using telemedicine for primary care visits.

With nearly 60 percent of C-suite leaders reporting increases in capital budgets versus last year, executives also plan to invest in facility construction (51 percent), facility renovation (45 percent), laboratory equipment (43 percent), and surgical equipment (23 percent).

Dig Deeper:

Understanding the Value-Based Reimbursement Model Landscape

Preparing the Healthcare Revenue Cycle for Value-Based Care

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