Price pressures from multiple directions are forcing hospitals to explore opportunities to more effectively manage costs and outcomes to attract patients and allow for growth.
The Impact of the Patient-as-Consumer
Significant changes in the health care industry are pushing hospital leadership to rethink what it means to grow and how to achieve it. With value-based reimbursement and declining Medicare dollars, hospitals are faced with many new cost containment challenges that can impact their revenue and slow progress in a challenging market.
Core to these challenges is the recognition that health care is becoming a consumer-driven market. From hospital ratings to Yelp reviews, patients can quickly find online information before selecting where they seek care. In fact, in one survey 34 percent of respondants said that their preferred method of finding a care provider was through independent research. Recommendations from family and friends accounted for 20 percent, and only 13 percent said they preferred information shared by a health care provider.
While reputation, patient satisfaction scores, and other quality measures figure heavily into a patient’s selection of a care facility, so do cost and accessibility. It is easier than ever for consumers to use online resources and gain an understanding of general costs, value and the experience that they may receive at a given facility. This increased transparency is starting to commoditize some elements of health care. It’s an influential trend that will only continue to increase price pressures.
Embrace Change to Grow Faster
Hospitals are trying to adapt to grow in this changing environment. They are looking for new strategies to help them compete for these informed consumer-patients. But when combined with other economic factors, it’s proving to be a difficult task for many hospital leadership teams. To better understand how these trends shape priorities at the executive level, a 2017 survey asked hospital CEOs to identify top areas of concern. These included:
- Improving ambulatory access
- Boosting outpatient procedural market share
- Innovative approaches to expense reduction
- Minimizing unwanted clinical variation
Addressing these concerns depends on the ability of a hospital to improve access and the quality of care. At the same time, hospitals must find a way to drive down costs. That’s a thin line to navigate that often requires the investment of a lot of time and dollars.
Many hospitals have been successful in driving growth through a strategy of identifying and pursuing “quick wins” that directly impact the patient experience. Instead of comprehensive cost-cutting measures, these wins focus on foundational, often over-looked processes.
For example, some hospitals are removing unnecessary spending by driving waste out of the equipment management process. They are doing so in two important ways. First, they are uncovering ways to connect siloed hospital departments. Second, they are focusing on methods that reduce equipment backlogs, patient care delays, and operating expenses – not just at a single facility, but across an IDN. These hospitals have been able to realize two key benefits as a result:
- Improved value of their medical equipment process and;
- More time for clinical staff to be with their patients.
In our experience, hospitals can use many tactics to drive growth. But few manage to both improve the patient experience and deliver measurable financial outcomes. We’ve identified four areas of opportunity for hospitals meet those objectives and start realizing value on day one.
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