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How Do Hospital CEOs Feel About the Healthcare Economy?

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 16, 2010

February 2010: Patient experience and patient-centered care improvements were the top priorities of 69% of healthcare CEOs at the beginning of this year.

February 2011: From what I've seen during multiple interviews lately (an admittedly unscientific method of coming to any conclusion), hospitals are really paying attention to this. The first or second thing out of the CEO's mouth these days is often related to patient experience and patient-centered care improvements latter—no matter what question I ask. That wasn't always the case. I've been covering healthcare for more than 10 years, and where we used to talk about reimbursement constantly, now it's about patient satisfaction. That's a positive for CEOs' economic outlook. They know if they provide a better product, it's more and more likely to get them rewarded. That's a big change in attitude.

February 2010: Some 74% of healthcare CEOs were hurting badly from the recession, according to the survey. Healthcare used to be seen as recession-proof. Though I'm not sure that was really ever true, healthcare is certainly more exposed to the vagaries of the economy now, as lost jobs equal more and more uninsured and people who have to now pay a significant portion of their healthcare costs and/or put off care.

February 2011: Well, according to the folks at the Federal Reserve, the recession's over, so this should definitely be a positive, right? Not so fast. Many think while the recession itself, that is, two straight quarters of negative growth, is over, the economy could fairly be described as stagnant. Jobs are still scarce, and there is still rampant pessimism about the healthcare reimbursement trend. Hospitals know they have to find ways to cut costs and be more efficient, but many are far behind the curve, and they know it.

Admittedly, this is a selective look and is little more than educated guessing, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that hospital CEOs probably don't share the same level of optimism as their colleagues across American business. We'll find out for sure in a few months. I'd love to hear whether you agree with me or not.


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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