The healthcare system is overburdened, fraught with waste and inefficiency, and in dire need of transformation. Unfortunately, when pundits and policy makers talk about improving the healthcare system, most of the ideas center on shifting the costs of healthcare. A better strategy is to focus on how patient care can be improved without increasing cost. In fact, improving patient outcomes and reducing costs are not tradeoffs—they complement each other when healthcare organizations focus on identifying waste and give their staff members the tools to improve processes across the enterprise.  

Read more: Slimming Down

According to a 2009 Department of Energy press release, US hospitals spend more than $5 billion annually on energy, often equaling 1% to 3% of a typical hospital’s operating budget—or an estimated 15% of profits. Given the size of this spend, and the overall complexity and volatility of energy markets, one might assume most hospitals and healthcare systems have a rigorous process in place for buying energy and extracting the best value from the market for their organizations.

Read more: Power Shopping

The inpatient to outpatient volume shift is poised to accelerate, leaving institutions that can’t adapt in the dust. Spurred by changes in reimbursement and healthcare reform, more procedures than ever are performed on an outpatient basis, and inpatient visits are on the chopping block. Changes in patient flow affect every area of the hospital, from facilities management and location to staffing, equipment, supplies, and relationships with physicians. And although you can’t ignore the issue, it doesn’t pay to blindly react, either.

Read more: Migrating Volume

There is no hotter topic in health reform today than the future of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and how healthcare providers can be given an incentive to organize and operate effectively in reducing costs and raising quality standards. At the center of any discussion over ACO potential is how they should be funded. Experts are sorting out which finance model will give these systems the best chance to improve clinical and financial outcomes. 

Read more: Follow the Money

When a winter snow and ice storm paralyzed metro Atlanta for five days in January, many hospitals were scrambling for supplies to keep their doors open. But Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta did not experience any difficulties at its three local hospitals because of a robust process-based management system, said Praveen Chopra, vice president, chief supply chain officer, and CIO.

Read more: True Thrift

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, few health systems were prepared. Neither was anyone else. With the market dropping like a rock and liquidity drying up, to say it was a financial catastrophe isn’t an exaggeration. In the three years since the financial crisis hit and receded, hospital CFOs have learned some tough lessons. A major legacy of the financial crisis is the importance of liquidity on a hospital’s balance sheet. Good and bad markets come and go, and the way to ride out both the lean and prosperous times is with a strong cushion of liquidity.

Read more: The Risk Factor

With reimbursements down and the implementation of the new healthcare law looming, hospitals are under more pressure than ever to cut costs. One area being eyed by many hospitals is pharmacy costs, as prescription drug costs are one of the largest components of rising healthcare expenses. Drug prices are a particularly tricky issue because at stake are a doctor’s preferences and perceived prerogatives, the well-being of the patient, and the facility’s need to control costs. Obviously, the well-being of the patient is the number one concern.

Read more: In Control

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