This article first appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
The overall state of the healthcare industry continues to confound and captivate healthcare leaders. Despite several years of preparing for healthcare reform standards such as care coordination, meaningful use, and value-based purchasing, leaders are still in a quandary: unhappy about the healthcare industry as a whole but convinced that their own organizations are moving in the right direction.
For the third consecutive year healthcare leaders view the industry as being on the wrong track, according to the 2013 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey. If there is solace to be gained from these findings, it is that the tide appears to be turning—albeit slowly.
The percent of respondents who think the industry is on the right track increased from 25% to 32% from 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile, the percentage of naysayers dropped from 46% to 39% during the comparable time period.
At the same time, respondents continue to view their own organizations as being on the right track by a significant share (71%). For the most part they have confidence in their leadership and staff, and in their organization's prospects for growth. From process improvement to population management and care coordination, survey respondents are aware of the opportunities (and threats) posed by the shifting healthcare landscape, and they are taking the steps necessary to capitalize on the changes.
But Intelligence Report advisors and others note that the healthcare industry must approach all of these changes within an environment of reduced reimbursements and shifting payment models. Healthcare leaders must balance the pace of change to maintain an adequate revenue stream.
"Our concern is, can we reduce our costs fast enough, as fast as reimbursements are coming down and as fast as volumes are coming down, and still have a positive bottom line?" asks Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance, a Johnson City, Tenn.–based health system that serves 29 counties in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
Most healthcare leaders seem to be optimistic that such a transition can be successfully navigated; indeed, 64% consider value-based purchasing their organization's greatest opportunity, just behind health information exchanges (78%).