WASHINGTON – March 2, 2023 – A Guidehouse Center for Health Insights analysis found that 95% of hospital and health system executives are projecting outpatient volumes to increase in 2023, with 40% expecting increases of 10% or more. Leaders are also focused on ramping up digital care, reducing their reliance on traveling clinicians, and hiring more advanced practitioners and behavioral health providers this year.
The analysis is based on a Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) survey of 182 hospital and health system CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other executives, conducted in collaboration with Guidehouse.
According to the analysis, 41% of leaders are also projecting inpatient volumes to drop, with 17% projecting decreases of 10% or more. Executives expect major emergency department volume increases, with one-third projecting by 10% or more. Additionally, a quarter of leaders expect a 10% or more increase in elective procedures.
“Most health systems are still experiencing volumes below pre-COVID levels, resulting in sizable market challenges,” said Richard Bajner, Guidehouse partner and payer/provider leader. “These shifts should inform strategic growth efforts that are focused on person-centered care, such as excellence in ambulatory services, to create sustainable business models that attract and retain patients while driving financial resiliency in an era of volatility.”
When asked about 2023 growth strategies, 96% of leaders said the state of their workforce is having a negative impact on their goals, with 62% citing a significantly negative impact. More than 40% of leaders are planning to reduce the number of contractors and traveling clinicians by 10% or more, with 18% citing decreases of 20% or more. Still, one-third of executives said they would be hiring more of these caregivers.
Additionally, with the expected increase in outpatient care, nearly 90% of leaders are planning to hire more advanced practitioners in 2023, and 80% are planning to hire more behavioral health providers.
“Health systems are struggling to afford the vast increase in the need for contractors and traveling clinicians,” said Thomas Zenty III, national advisor, Guidehouse. “As their short-term contracts come to an end, leading organizations are finding attractive ways to keep these caregivers on full-time and integrate them into the business.”
Leaders are also projecting digital care as their greatest budget increase this year, followed by revenue cycle automation. Moreover, 43% of executives cited technology adoption and integration as having a positive impact on their 2023 growth strategy and goals. As such, three out of every four leaders stated they would be increasing hiring in IT, coding, and revenue cycle this year.
“With growth in labor and supply costs, many leaders are turning to purposeful artificial intelligence, automation, and digital care strategies to improve engagement and efficiency,” said Zenty. “Successful organizations are reevaluating their digital connectivity capabilities to ensure patients and caregivers know how to access and use patient portals, EHRs, and other technologies, as well as to streamline corporate and non-clinical services.”
The survey analysis was conducted October-November 2022 and C-suite executives made up 80% of respondents. Learn more.
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