I wanted to share some Sunday morning post-workout musings that I had in a moment of clarity after clearing a few hundred direct messages. A common theme of those unsolicited messages is, “what keeps me up a night?” and “how can I help?” Well, the answer is to help us with the sustainability of healthcare, enabling it to survive/thrive.
Why do you ask? Healthcare providers find themselves at a challenging time as they face the headwinds of inflation, continuing labor pressures, geopolitical uncertainty, variability in the supply chain, and three years of pandemic-driven volume/revenue loss, while still serving surging numbers of Tripledemic patients.
That said, here are some places #healthcare has to focus on to shore up against those demand signals:
- Using technology. Technology advances can help reduce costs and improve efficiency in healthcare. If you still need to see the benefits here, you have time. However, current fiscal pressures force technology initiatives out of the buzz of conjecture/hyperbole/ethereal and into the IRR/TCO/ROI reality of near-term pressures. Show real value in 6-18 months, or shelf it!
- Increasing efficiency. By streamlining processes and reducing waste, healthcare organizations can lower costs and offset risks. Stern looks at Revenue Cycle Management, Supply Chain, Perioperative Optimization, and Support Services (IT/HR/Legal/Facilities/Security) will yield some must-do and long-ignored inefficiencies.
- Negotiating better prices with suppliers, drug manufacturers, and service providers are table stakes. The time is now to leverage relationships to ensure a disciplined and governed value analysis practice, which will yield immediate results.
- Reducing administrative costs. Streamlining administrative processes, such as billing and claims, will lower costs and offset inflation.
- Implementing/optimizing value-based care. This approach focuses on providing high-quality, cost-effective care rather than simply focusing on the service volume. A combination of VBC and wellness-centric models will be a win/win/win/win for payers/providers/patients/members.
- Encouraging competition. Allowing more competition among healthcare providers can help to reduce costs by tearing down fiefdoms and service line monopolies.
- Government intervention through price control, subsidies, and other means to control healthcare costs seems inevitable. An intervention appears necessary to shift the equilibrium toward providers, thus checking the trend of rural/small hospital closures, specialty reduction (forcing extensive commutes for secondary/tertiary care), and soaring supplies/labor/software costs.
Do these now and before layoffs/reductions in force, blindly outsourcing support services, closures, leveraged M&A, and closing less profitable but essential lines of business.
This piece was written by William Walders, CIO and Senior VP of IDN Operations at Health First, a 4-hospital system based in Brevard County, Florida. To view the original post, click here.