Leading Healthcare Executives Optimistic About Healthcare Reform

Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s leading healthcare executives believe the healthcare system will be somewhat or significantly better by 2020 than it is today as a result of national healthcare reform, according to a study published in the Health Affairs blog.

Additionally, 93 percent believe that the quality of care provided by their own hospital or health system will improve during that time period.

The findings are based on research by the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who surveyed 74 senior executives from large hospitals and health systems across the United States. Respondents included 46 CEOs, 17 presidents, four CFOs, and three COOs. Nearly all worked in large academic medical centers, which on average employed 8,520 workers and had annual revenues of $1.5 billion.

On the issue of healthcare cost control, the executives voiced similar optimism:

  • 91 percent of the study’s respondents forecasted improvements within their own hospital or health system by 2020.
  • 85 percent expect their organization to have reduced its per-patient operating costs by the end of the decade.

Overall, the expected average operating cost reduction was 11.7 percent. These savings could be achieved by such strategies as reducing the number of hospitalizations (54 percent), reducing the number of readmissions (49 percent), and reducing the number of emergency room visits (39 percent).

The survey’s respondents also identified additional ways the federal government could assist in achieving cost reduction in hospitals, including:

  • Setting a specified timeline for changing Medicare reimbursement from a fee-for-service payment system to a bundled payment approach (31 percent);
  • Aligning payment policies between Medicare and private insurers (30 percent); and
  • Separating funds for training and research from Medicare payment and maintaining current funding levels (28 percent).

Among respondents who were pessimistic about the Affordable Care Act’s effects, administrative complexity was cited as the greatest barrier to reducing their organizations’ operating costs. Fears about misaligned reimbursement policies, such as the absence of incentives for improving long-term patient quality of life, also were expressed.

Source: Penn Medicine, December 18, 2013

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