Everyone understands the financial struggles that many hospitals and their accompanying emergency departments (ED) have recently faced. For one, ED visits are on the rise, yet per-patient reimbursements are either flat or declining. Meanwhile, greater numbers of self-pay patients who are unable to cover their medical expenses are visiting emergency rooms for even trivial ailments, taxing ED resources and driving uncompensated care rates higher. Outdated facilities, a lack of technical prowess, and ongoing difficulties in finding and retaining qualified ED clinicians and leadership have also prevented EDs from providing the highest-quality care to as many patients as possible. These problems were explored in the May 2012 HealthLeaders Media?s Intelligence Survey, which asked ED leaders to discuss the most relevant issues pertaining to their current and future performance. Of the approximately 300 survey respondents, a wide majority (43%) reported that their department's greatest strategic challenge was patient flow. The second and third most popular responses—reimbursement and physician alignment/ adherence to quality goals—were both reported as the greatest strategic challenge by only 13% of respondents.
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