Trends in healthcare administration: Part 2

We asked our Zintro experts to comment on the growing trends in healthcare administration and management. Many responded with a diverse range of thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Take a look.

Dr. Luis Azpurua, a healthcare executive, says that there is a universal truth that delivering healthcare is costly, and the assigned healthcare budget always falls short to the needs. “The role of the healthcare manager is to maximize this budget in order to give coverage to as many people as possible while trying to sustain the highest quality standards based in medical evidence. Not an easy task,” says Azpurua. “To accomplish this, the medical manager has to rely on informatics technology (IT).”

Azpurua points out that it depends where in the world you are located. “There are clear differences between the development and use of IT. In the developed world, IT is already part of the healthcare system. The trend is to use cellular phones and tablets as tools for the everyday life. Future applications will be designed to be used everywhere, so the manager doesn’t have to be in office to keep in touch with clients. In the underdeveloped world, IT is beginning to be used the healthcare system. Right now, the software has to integrate the medical with the financial issues. It could be that the developing world will jump straight up to the top (or near the top) of technology once the IT network becomes part of healthcare systems,” he says.

David Silverman says that the profile of the hospital administrator has shifted from someone actually knowledgeable about running a hospital to that of a business executive that is running a business. “As the old guard retires, we are seeing CFOs elevating to the position of CEO; somehow, it is believed that the financial focus of these folks translates into knowledge of hospital administration,” he says. “In today’s economic environment, healthcare reform decisions are focused on bottom line impact rather than quality healthcare delivery. Granted, most products and services are mostly generic, and if the clinical result is the same, then go with the less expensive. But, is it really less expensive just because it cost a less?”

Silverman wonders if group purchasing organization (GPO) relationships will be given up for the sake hospitals jumping from GPO to GPO for the promise of bigger returns. “Is the current trend in healthcare (short-term savings) going to drive the GPO out of business and result in higher costs in the long term? My studies and interview say yes, the viability of the GPO will reside in a drastic business model change, more of a fee for service,” he says.

John Stanton, an expert in lockbox operations, points out that one trend in healthcare administration is the continued transition to electronic incoming and paid claims. “This trend will continue in the under 65 population as the US Administration continues to push toward automation that will result in significant savings in healthcare. Insurance information, including claims history, might be required to include in electronic medical records,” he says. “Auditors will now research the history of filing on a computer rather than wading through a room of folders containing paper files. Explanation of benefits statements will go the way of the bank statement and will be viewed online in the future.”

Eric Smet, a senior business development and marketing executive, says that in Europe, macroeconomic, demographic, and fiscal capacity constrains governments in allocating more public revenue to the healthcare budgets, which pressures healthcare administrators to continuously improve productivity. “A resulting trend is the shifting of procedures from inpatient to ambulatory care, which occurs in both the fee-for-service healthcare markets (i.e. Belgium) and in the managed care markets (UK, Scandinavia). Efficiently managing the continuous increase in outpatient volumes will become a prime concern for many hospital administrations in the immediate and longer term future,” says Smet.

Performance scores for healthcare providers, for both ambulatory and inpatient care, will become more publicly visible and the relative weight of patient’s experience will become more important (versus cost and health outcome parameters, Smet suggests. Patient satisfaction surveys and tracking of the overall experience at the hospital will become mandatory practice and the obtained results will increasingly influence hospital policies and budget allocations.

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