Hospitals and health systems faced tremendous uncertainty in 2017, a trend that will continue throughout 2018. As someone who led nonprofit health systems for two decades, I’ve seen firsthand how uncertainty can affect care delivery. Instead of waiting or wavering, providers must maintain their focus on efforts that improve safety, quality, and satisfaction, eliminate disparities of care, and reduce costs.
But achieving these care delivery goals is increasingly proving to be a challenge. According to a Guidehouse analysis of 2,000 hospitals, from 2015-2017, average operating margins dropped from 5.6% to 3.6%, a 35% decrease.
These trends are forecast to continue, if not worsen. Moody’s downgraded not-for-profit healthcare from stable to negative for 2018, predicting further decline in operating cash flow due in part to further swelling of staffing and technology expenses.
It was against this backdrop that C-suite executives representing more than 200 hospitals nationwide convened in fall 2017 in Washington, D.C., for the Guidehouse Transformation Institute’s 2017 CEO Forum. Throughout the session, executives discussed the key issues impacting providers, and shared examples of how their organizations are working to overcome them. Following are their collective insights on surviving — and thriving — in these uncertain times.
“Healthcare has never moved quickly compared to other industries, but now the game is changing in real time. We need to approach care delivery very differently today.”
Laura S. Kaiser
President and CEO, SSM Health
“An industry like banking adds technology and becomes more efficient, yet healthcare spends billions of dollars on IT and loses efficiency. We need to further our focus on leveraging these investments to enhance efficiencies so we can better care for the communities we serve.”
Regional Vice President, Intermountain Healthcare
CEO, Utah Valley Hospital
“We talk about an EHR’s ROI, but we can’t lose focus on the ROH, or return on health. We need to work directly with EHR vendors to ensure quality improvements are a central focus in the development of their EHR systems and related technologies.”
President and CEO, HealthPartners (Minnesota)