3 Challenges in Healthcare Today

According to an American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) report released in January 2015, healthcare executives are in for “challenging times” as they work to improve patient outcomes and maintain profitable practices. Read on to discover some of the biggest challenges that modern healthcare leaders face.

The Need to Do More with Less

Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2013.jpg

Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2013

Taking care of patients must be the top priority of any healthcare facility, but meeting this objective is becoming increasingly difficult as healthcare executives wrestle with tight budgets. Adequate and timely Medicare reimbursements were major concerns for 69 percent of respondents surveyed by the ACHE. In addition, 67 percent of surveyed executives were worried about bad debt, and 63 percent were feeling the financial sting of dwindling patient volumes.

All of these problems are forcing healthcare executives to find creative ways to do more in their facilities with less money. Many find that long-term business strategies learned through degrees like the Executive Master of Healthcare Administration are helping them identify places where they can reduce or eliminate costs. Executives may also look to increase their budgets through seeking grants and developing marketing strategies to attract new patients.

Government Requirements

The healthcare industry has been in a state of flux since the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and other recent government mandates. Many healthcare executives have found understanding and implementing new rules and regulations particularly challenging. It’s important that healthcare executives research all new requirements thoroughly and ask questions of government representatives if they’re unsure of anything. This will give them the confidence they need to implement any changes.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) audits also ranked a major concern in the ACHE report, with 80 percent of healthcare executives focusing their attention on areas such as the recovery audit program and Comprehensive Error Rate Testing evaluation. Maintaining clear records will ensure you can present just what you need in the event of an audit.

The Need to Overcome Disconnect Between Executives and Physicians

In an ideal world, healthcare executives and physicians would work together to improve the culture of their healthcare facility. However, nearly three-quarters of healthcare executives say they struggle to engage their physicians.

Healthcare executives and physicians share many common values, including a desire to improve patient care and a concern for the future of their facilities and the healthcare industry as a whole. These common values can form the framework for a closer relationship between executives and physicians. Time must be allocated regularly for healthcare executives and their physicians to communicate.

Physicians have much to teach executives about clinical priorities and valuable new technologies, while executives can share their experiences with management tools and planning, implementation, and assessment techniques. When issues arise, physicians and executives can offer their sides of the problem and work together to find a common solution. Through regular communication and the results it brings, executives should find their physicians becoming more engaged in the process.

Challenging times may be ahead for healthcare executives, but the expertise of these industry leaders should help them weather the storm.

For more information please visit USC’s Executive Master of Health Administration Online program.