Healthcare's Financial Foundation for 2014

With healthcare leaders gaining a firmer grasp on just how the Affordable Care Act will impact their organizations, the industry is moving toward a new financial foundation.

With healthcare leaders gaining a firmer grasp on just how the Affordable Care Act will impact their organizations, the industry is moving toward a new financial foundation, according to a report from the HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Unit.

The 2014 Industry Survey found no consensus on the state of the healthcare industry, with 39% saying the industry is on the wrong track, 31% claiming it is on the right track and another 31% still undecided. They are more confident in their own organizations, though, with 69% saying the organization is on the right track and just 12% claiming it to be on the wrong track.

The top threat to their organizations, according to 91% of respondents, is reduced reimbursements, followed distantly by industry consolidation (37%) and healthcare reform overall (36%).

Less than three-quarters (72%) of respondents believe the healthcare industry will make the switch from volume to value with a shift in care from the hospital to out-patient and ambulatory settings.

“For many, expanding the continuum of care brings concern about monitoring quality,” Michael Zeis, research analyst for HealthLeaders Media, wrote in the report. “With more care providers involved, there are more handoffs, which may be one reason that monitoring is becoming more important.”

With current revenue pressures, health leaders are looking to contain costs. One of the top methods to control costs, according to 81% of respondents, is expense reduction via process improvement.

While 36% of respondents expect their organizations’ financial forecast for fiscal year 2014 to be flat, 47% say it should be positive and just 15% expect it to be negative. However, this is slightly less optimistic than last year, when 55% were positive.

Mergers and acquisitions have presented challenges in physician alignment, clinical integration and care coordination, with just 10% of respondents saying that care coordination is very strong.

“Care coordination is really about standardization of care, using standardized quality indicators, and using standard protocols,” Michael T. Burke, senior vice president, vice dean and corporate chief financial officer of the New York University Langone Medical Center, said in the report. “Some health systems have not done well because they’ve come together as loosely affiliated networks as opposed to in a clinically integrated delivery system,”

Overall, 77% of respondents said they are satisfied with their jobs with only 8% dissatisfied. Plus, satisfaction among leaders at hospitals, health systems and physician organizations is relatively similar.