New HealthLeaders Media Survey: Sixty Percent of Healthcare Leaders Say Lack of Data Inhibits Cost Control Efforts

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In a new independent HealthLeaders Media report, Strategic Cost Control: True Cost, Process Redesign, and IT Integration, sponsored by Healthagen, healthcare executives say the top three challenges to lowering costs in a sustainable fashion are the availability of actionable data on healthcare costs (60%), integration with care partners (41%), and technology to support value-based goals (40%).

Until recently, revenues were based on treating patients, and volume was the desired goal. Today the emphasis is on shared cost savings through population health and accountable care,” says Daniel Finke, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions from Aetna

In a new independent HealthLeaders Media report, Strategic Cost Control: True Cost, Process Redesign, and IT Integration, sponsored by Healthagen, healthcare executives say the top three challenges to lowering costs in a sustainable fashion are the availability of actionable data on healthcare costs (60%), integration with care partners (41%), and technology to support value-based goals (40%). With 68% of healthcare organizations saying they are already actively involved in value-based care, overcoming these obstacles is becoming a strategic imperative.

The report, sponsored by Healthagen, shows that healthcare organizations are evolving beyond traditional purchasing and supply chain efficiencies into more robust programs involving process redesign and IT initiatives. This shift is largely driven by the impending transition to value-based care and the adoption of risk-based models—as well as a startling statistic from the Institute of Medicine that 30% of the nation’s health expenditures are wasted. This report includes data from a survey of HealthLeaders Media’s 8,200-member executive research panel. The free excerpt can be downloaded at http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/intelligence.

“Until recently, revenues were based on treating patients, and volume was the desired goal. Today the emphasis is on shared cost savings through population health and accountable care,” says Daniel Finke, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions from Aetna, a business of report sponsor Healthagen. “In order to be successful, healthcare providers need clear insights on their costs and how to provide quality care to patients in a more efficient manner. While this HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report mirrors our progress on aligning all stakeholders toward common objectives, it also illuminates new opportunities.”

As healthcare leadership teams become more efficient through supply chain optimization, they are looking to process redesign as the next step in their cost containment initiatives. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say process redesign is providing the highest dollar value in cost containment contributions.

“It will be interesting over the next two or three years to see how agile organizations can be at containing costs once those items have been targeted. At Utah Health Care, we are putting a lot of effort into not only understanding our costs, but then how to take that information and redesign care so that you can actually measurably reduce cost,” says Robert Pendleton, MD, FACP, chief medical quality officer and associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah.

Many organizations are looking to analytics for the answer. Fifty-three percent say analytics support for expense and cost monitoring would deliver a big financial benefit. Also, 48% say identifying clinical process variation shows promise for both understanding and reducing costs within the next three years. A larger percentage, 55%, feel that technology to integrate clinical and financial data would help identify and manage costs in the future.

Patients are, of course, another integral piece of the puzzle. The survey explores whether quality of care has been adversely impacted by cost containment initiatives. Eighty percent of respondents report that quality has not declined.

“It really has to be about doing the right thing for the patient, streamlining processes, doing appropriate care but not over-utilizing care, and having a little bit of faith that, at the end of the day, that value equation comes out on a positive note,” says Pendleton. “And our experience certainly has been that when we do the right thing for the patient, not only are the outcomes better but costs come down considerably as well.”

Other compelling statistics from the report include:

  •     The No. 1 barrier to sustainable cost containment is a lack of data on the true cost of care, cited by 60% of surveyed healthcare leaders.
  •     16% of respondents are unable to determine the true cost of any care they provide. Only 5% say they can do this for all care, 26% say they can do this for most care, while 54% say they do it for some care.
  •     Purchasing and supply chain efficiencies (64%) remain the most productive operations/administrative cost containment activities, but process redesign (58%) is not far behind.
  •     At the top of the list of IT activities driving the most near-term cost reduction are integrating clinical and financial data (55%), analytics support for expense and cost monitoring (53%), and identifying clinical process variation (48%).

About HealthLeaders Media
HealthLeaders Media, a division of BLR, is a leading multi-platform media company dedicated to meeting the business information needs of healthcare executives and professionals. As an integrated media company, HealthLeaders Media includes HealthLeaders magazine, HealthLeadersMedia.com, the HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Unit, HealthLeaders Media LIVE events, and California HealthFax. All these platforms may be found online at http://www.healthleadersmedia.com.

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