HFMA Focuses on Value as Annual Conference Begins

"Value" has been a buzzword in healthcare for several years now, but according to a new report, there's still work to be done to close "the value loop" and engage consumers in the effort.

“Value” has been a buzzword in healthcare for several years now, but according to a new report, there’s still work to be done to close “the value loop” and engage consumers in the effort.

The report was the product of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, which opened its 2015 National Institute Monday in Orlando. The new research is part of HFMA’s Value Project, which launched in 2010.

The report details 10 action steps to improve healthcare value in the nation. It highlights a number of traits of “forward thinking” provider organizations, including investment in population health management, a focus on aligning hospitals and physicians around shared goals, and an emphasis on cost-effectiveness, rather than focusing on dominating markets.

“The volume-to-value shift is pretty well understood in the industry on a conceptual level at this point,” said Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA, the president and CEO of the organization. “In addition to implementing strategies to drive value, provider organizations should close the loop by passing value improvements through to customers. This research identifies steps that all major healthcare stakeholders can take to close the value loop.”

Indeed, many of the 10 steps are focused on patient communication. The report recommends providers explicitly define their value proposition, and do so in a way that focuses on the value for the consumer. It also suggests using metrics to define value that are meaningful to consumers.

The report also urges providers to think differently about competition. For instance, the report argues that market changes may open collaboration opportunities with other providers previously seen as “competitors.” It notes that different types of providers might have different competencies and capabilities, and thus, different opportunities to achieve efficiencies.

Finally, the report discusses ways to change an organization’s culture to align physicians and hospitals. It suggests a focus on shared challenges and the alignment economic incentives so physicians and management see clearly how they can work together.

HFMA’s National Institute continues through Thursday. An ebook with all 10 of the organization’s Value Project reports is available at HFMA’s website.