Premier: In Uncertain Healthcare Moment, System Leaders Focused on Costs, Data

March 22, 2017
Despite industry uncertainty about the future healthcare under the Trump administration and a Republican Congress, health system leaders are preparing for the changes ahead in five key areas, most of which involve health IT,

Despite industry uncertainty about the future healthcare under the Trump administration and a Republican Congress, health system leaders are preparing for the changes ahead in five key areas, most of which involve health IT, according to a recent survey from the Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier, Inc.

In priority order, health system leaders are focusing on: managing costs, with a focus on drug spending; moving from meaningful use to meaningful insights; engaging and satisfying consumers; shifting toward population health, risk and scale; and continuing differentiation on quality and costs, according to the research.

The survey was conducted online, with the results based off responses of 63 healthcare C-suite leaders (CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, CIO or CTIO) earlier this year. Premier’s aim was to survey health system C-suite leaders to understand how the political climate will affect business decisions and investment strategies.

Some of the research’s most noteworthy findings include:

Moving from meaningful use to meaningful insight: Health systems are moving beyond recording data in electronic health records (EHRs) toward integrating and combining data to streamline analytics on supply chain, financial and clinical care for evidence-based decision-making.

    • 53 percent will increase or increase substantially a push to integrate data from disparate sources and/or make investments in analytics and no respondents indicated they would decrease focus on this strategy.
    • 50 percent will increase or increase substantially their efforts to improve interoperability of existing health technology and no respondents indicated they would decrease investments.
    • 47 percent will increase or increase substantially the utilization of technology to support risk-based contracts and no respondents planned to reduce investments.

Engaging and satisfying consumers: With high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts, consumers will increasingly choose economical, accessible healthcare options. As such, providers are focusing on increasing use of health system-affiliated ambulatory clinics and stand-alone primary care providers, engagement strategies like online apps and telemedicine and care management teams.

  • 56 percent will increase or substantially increase patient access to clinicians through telehealth and no respondents planned to reduce investments.
  • 45 percent will look to increase or substantially investments in patient engagement initiatives and no respondents indicated they would decrease investments.

Shifting toward population health, risk and scale: After being championed for years by the last administration, the shift toward value-based care continues to be an important strategic focus for hospitals and health systems. Healthcare leaders continue the development of high-value networks with clinicians and providers across the care continuum to deliver improved patient outcomes.

  • 45 percent will increase or substantially increase expansion of post-acute care services through partnerships and no respondents planned to reduce investments.
  • 40 percent indicate they will increase use of expanded healthcare team structures to include care coordinators, clinical pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other healthcare extenders. No leaders indicated they would decrease use of this strategy.

Continuing differentiation on clinical quality and costs: Health systems continue to pay attention to quality reporting and management, but this has clearly become a part of the standard operating practice for healthcare leaders and is requiring less focus and attention.

  • 46 percent report their health systems will increase or substantially increase use of quality reporting systems for clinicians for public payers (i.e. MIPS). Two percent of respondents indicated they would decrease investment in this effort.
  • 36 percent said they will increase or substantially increase use of quality reporting systems for commercial payers and no respondents planned to reduce investments. No leaders indicated they would decrease focus on this reporting.

Managing costs, with focus on drug spending: Healthcare leaders will be focused on improving productivity and reducing supply chain inefficiencies and pharmaceutical costs, as well as clinical variation.

  • 65 percent intend to increase or increase substantially efforts to control cost of care management efforts and no respondents planned to reduce investments.
  • 61 percent report they will be increasing or increasing substantially the management of rising pharmaceutical spend and no respondents planned to decrease focus on this area.

“In this period of great uncertainty and concern, healthcare leaders are understandably focused on managing costs,” Mike Alkire, chief operating officer of Premier, said in a statement. “They are also clearly working hard to make sense of all the data they have, most of which remains in silos. Making sense of that data has clearly become a priority for leaders as has the movement toward a more consumer-centric and accountable care delivery system.”

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