Healthcare 2014: A Retrospective

December 18, 2014
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Healthcare 2014

 

Looking Back & Looking Ahead:

What You Need to Know About Healthcare Right Now.

  


Healthcare 2014

 

Looking Back & Looking Ahead:

What You Need to Know About Healthcare Right Now.

  


Looking Back: Healthcare 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, many of us in the healthcare industry are looking back at the year we’ve had and reflect on what worked, what needs to change and what we can expect for 2015. As an industry, healthcare saw a continued move towards accountable care, shared decision making, value-based purchasing and patient satisfaction measures. Buzzwords abound, there was a lot for everyone – providers, patients and payers – to juggle this year. And it looks like the trend is apt to continue into 2015.

Number of Hospitals

To provide a little perspective, according to census data from the American Hospital Association, there are just over 4,000 hospitals in the United States. Mergers and acquisitions between these hospitals has actually gone down since 2013 – at a rate of about 61 %.

Hospital Leadership

In executive leadership, we saw an increase in the number of “outside” hires for c-suite positions – as many as 60% of those in executive positions were hired from outside the organization – which is an interesting trend, considering that c-suite placement is up 37% from the previous year. Perhaps if all the local talent has been tapped for these positions, hospitals have needed to look elsewhere.

Still Not Enough PCPs

A major, ongoing concern for these execs remains the shortage of primary care physicians 68 % reported this as a top concern. This might be why the use of locum tenens physicians in hospitals reached 90% in 2013 – a near 20% increase from 2012.

Even with the perceived physician shortage, many hospitals had plenty to be proud of this year: The Joint Commission’s recognition of Top Performing hospitals rose by 11% this year. No doubt due to a shift in focus to value-based purchasing, quality improvement and utilization review programs are booming. Not a moment too soon, either: data from the same report showed that medication errors are present in as many of half of discharged patients.

Healthcare IT, Still Slow on the Uptake

Tracking incidences such as these might become easier when more hospitals embrace the technology available to them – of those 4,000 some odd hospitals in the U.S. only 205 have hospital-branded mobile apps that can be used by patients – 34 for those are for children’s hospitals. The lack of healthcare technology as embraced by these organizations accounts for, in large part, the very low number of hospitals that have met Meaningful Use Stage 2: as of November, only 840 had reached this benchmark.

Medicare, Medicaid and Funding

When it comes to government funded programs, hospitals that are not participating in the Medicare expansion this year can expect to lose $423.6 billion in federal funding between now and 2022. Almost all hospitals in the U.S. receive some kind of Medicare/Medicaid payment or funding for services rendered.

Medicare has released its fee schedule or 2015, which includes for the first time a chronic care management payment schedule which will support physicians in treating chronically ill patients. This appears in conjunction with the transition to the value-based payment model, which is also making its official debut this coming year – along with another major implementation that it feels like we’ve been waiting for forever; ICD-10.

ICD-10 Will Arrive – Finally

October 2015 will mark the compliance deadline for ICD-10, but providers and hospitals are cautioned that just because the date has been pushed out for years doesn’t mean they should slack on their preparations for the change – ICD-10 boasts 8 times the number of codes as in the current ICD-9.

With more patients insured, through Obamacare and employer mandates to cover employees that meet certain criteria, it’s likely that more patients than ever will be seeking care. These patients are among some of the most chronically ill and have many comorbid conditions: 1 in 5 hospital stays includes a principal or secondary diagnosis of a mental health condition.

2015 will be a big year for healthcare, and we’ll finally start to see some of the payoff from the ACA, the continued innovation around healthcare technology and ICD-10 and, of course, the continued forward march of healthcare reform.

And, of course, should we injure ourselves in the march – there’s an ICD-10 code for that (Y93.01).