As 2019 winds to a close, I wanted to find out what challenges and trends top healthcare consultants predict in the new year to ensure we deliver valuable content to our blog audience. In particular, I was interested in a general forecast for the healthcare industry, along with specific insights on the MEDITECH market, which many of our customers belong to. I’d like to thank Navin, Haffty & Associates; CereCore; and Ettain Group (formerly Leidos Health) for their thoughtful responses. Here’s what they had to say…
“Heading into 2020, healthcare’s landscape will be just as complex and highly regulated while being at risk given the political climate and its impact to healthcare policies.
Overall, healthcare organizations will remain challenged with staying fiscally viable while still delivering on their organization’s mission. Being diligent to the bottom line and balancing and delivering on the many day-to-day demands and priorities is only a part of an organization’s survival equation. Being innovative and recognized as a quality healthcare market leader will be critical to the future of all healthcare organizations.
Beyond the regulatory requirements surrounding patient privacy, security and quality reporting (which in themselves are overwhelming), the following challenges and opportunities have risen to the top of the list for many healthcare executive teams across the country:
• Enhancing the Consumer Experience –Ensuring interactions are timely, convenient, streamlined, and cohesive in all matters involving their care, appointments and payments.
• Cost Transparency – Reigning in medical and pharmaceutical costs in creative ways that includes, but not limited to, reduction of clinical variation and reduction of operational overhead. In addition, consumers should be provided with price transparency and related information on products and services to enable better decision making.
• Integrated Care Coordination - Eliminating the care delivery silos and providing a quality delivery and payment model that is cohesive, coordinated, scaled, and cost-effective.
• Effectively Leveraging Data & Analytics – Building internal expertise to leverage data from all sources to ultimately drive towards value-based, cost-effective performance in all areas of operations and healthcare delivery.
• Population Health –Identifying and empowering community members/patients and delivering services and products to improve lifestyle, behavior, socioeconomic conditions, education, environmental well-being and overall health.This also includes products that improve point-of-care access through wearables, digital devices, retail clinics, home-based care,telehealth and many other solutions.
• Value-Based Payment Models – Developing a more innovative approach for managing cost, sharing risk and improving quality outcomes to transition to a value-based payment model (i.e., bundled payments).
Given the internal and external challenges and opportunities facing this industry, healthcare leaders must become more skilled in determining which strategic initiatives will provide the highest value for the survival and future of their organization. All of these initiatives require significant financial investments, along with significant people and process changes in how work and care is delivered. The latter is where many organizations stumble, and even after significant investments, they do not reap the targeted performance outcomes. It will take a committed and talented leadership team to inspire their organization to deliver quality healthcare services that are safe and cost-effective.”
“Merger and acquisition activity almost always present an EHR-system decision for the acquired facility, many of which are MEDITECH hospitals. Organizations are completing mergers and acquisitions to leverage size and scale while managing patient population, reimbursement, cost pressures and regulatory requirements. Each option presents a different set of challenges and opportunities:
• Migrating to the Existing EHR - There are benefits to migrating an acquired facility to an existing EHR, such as: one patient record, physician and employee satisfaction and support costs. However, challenges include overall cost of migration along with disruption to the facility.
• Supporting Data Exchange Between Different EHR Systems - There are tools developed to help with data exchange between different EHRs leveraging CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality Connectivity, in addition to products supplied by EHR vendors. This provides a solid option for sharing patient data without the cost and disruption of changing EHR systems.
• Integrating MEDITECH to the Existing EHR(s) - MEDITECH bundled various integration tools into their product called Traverse. This product supports sharing of patient information, exchanging orders and results with other facilities, and provides a more user-friendly way to directly access non-MEDITECH EHR systems.
• A Detailed Analysis is Essential - The end-goal should always be enabling the best patient care while causing the least disruption. A strong Advisory Services provider will provide extensive expertise, knowledge and a framework for this analysis and deliver a comparison of options and a technical plan for execution across MEDITECH, Epic, Cerner, and other systems.”
“Retention and recruitment of IT talent will be one of the biggest challenges facing hospitals in 2020. This will especially impact smaller and mid-sized organizations that can’t provide the same opportunities for career advancement as larger organizations. Low unemployment, coupled with demand for IT skills throughout industries where compensation tends to be higher than in healthcare, is straining the ability to retain staff and fill vacancies. As healthcare IT demands become increasingly complex, most CIOs are concerned about whether they have the right talent to meet their needs.
While compensation is a factor, it is usually not the most significant reason for staff departure. A respectful work environment with flexibility to allow staff to balance work with personal needs is of utmost importance. Staff that feel their employer cares for them are less likely to consider other opportunities. In a negative work environment, turnover will remain high with increased compensation having little impact.
We encourage those in IT leadership to focus on creating and maintaining a work environment that demonstrates to their staff they are respected and valued."
Each year healthcare is full of challenges and opportunities, and we’re looking forward to seeing how 2020 unfolds. The topics and challenges presented by John, Craig and Anne Marie are not only thought-provoking, but actionable. Understanding and addressing key issues that can drive healthcare forward are important for the overall healthcare IT community and individual healthcare facilities.
We are always grateful for the insights of other healthcare experts, and we appreciate the collaboration and discussions that lead to improving the healthcare experience for our joint customers.
Forward Advantage wishes everyone a happy and healthy New Year and we look forward to a successful 2020!
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