Half Blame Feds for Healthcare Industry Mess

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , February 21, 2012

This article appears in the February 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Almost half of healthcare finance leaders (42%) feel the healthcare industry as a whole is on the wrong track, and more than a third (34%) are undecided as to whether healthcare is on the right or wrong track, according to the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2012.

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As finance leaders prepare for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement cuts and the demanding transition year leading to the 2013 full implementation of meaningful use, ICD-10, and other healthcare initiatives, the daunting nature of the big picture may be influencing their collective opinion of 2012.

"CFOs will feel less positive in 2012 because there's so much unknown. It doesn't seem like we'll know where we're going until much later in the year. With everything else we have to deal with, we are going to be faced with sequestration and the elections. These are also going to have a significant impact on our futures," says Ann Pumpian, senior vice president and CFO at Sharp HealthCare, a not-for-profit integrated regional healthcare delivery system based in San Diego.

Where do finance leaders place the blame for the uncertainty they feel and the overall healthcare industry mess? According to the survey, the government (48%) and health plans (21%) are to blame. Finance leaders are more likely to point the finger at the government than the 40% of respondents in the Overall Cross-Sector Report.

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2 comments on "Half Blame Feds for Healthcare Industry Mess"

Alton Brantley, MD,PhD (2/24/2012 at 3:50 PM)
The reason for the discrepancy in the survey regarding government interventions is straightforward: What was sought from the government was standardization in data formats and interchange, so that medical information would not be tied into specific EHRs, and that different vendors and payers wouldn't make life more complicated for hospitals, health systems, and doctors. What the government provided was rigid coercion of adoption of incompatible systems and multiple changing expectations all occurring during the same time frame. The end result is that hospitals and doctors are spending more time changing systems, meeting deadlines, reprioritizing, and disrupting patient care. As an example of how this COULD have worked, the internet, specifically the web-supporting data standards, started simply, grew in a stepwise fashion, and have enabled an explosion of creativity and utility, without certifying browsers and setting up unreasonable and expensive conversion processes. The problem of physician adoption would have melted away from the aging of the clinical population (technicians, nurses, and doctors), and costs would have gone down, not up. Finally, had the government adopted state of the art technology, rather than the enshrined fixed field, positional coding structure of documents, computer processing could have been accomplished through evolution rather than gut-wrenching cutovers.

Phyllis Kritek, RN, PhD (2/21/2012 at 9:49 AM)
I am hoping that one of the analyses of this very excellent survey will grapple with three interacting and amazingly contradictory findings: 1. 59% of your respondents said the reason that the health care industry could not solve its own problems was "too much self-interest among the different stakeholders". The second highest response, which I think is related, focused on lack of incentive to innovate and garnered only 14%, so I consider this pretty high consensus. 2. Having established why the industry cannot save itself, the blame for the current state of affairs put the it squarely on the government (40%)! I was startled: we can't work together so we cannot fix ourselves, but it is the government's fault. 3. Then, the highest ranking answer for who will save the industry is hospitals (22%) unless you ponder the nebulous "other" at 31%. Apparently, we are going to save ourselves from the awful government intrusion while acknowledging we cannot do so due to competing self-interest agendas among ourselves. Your final analysis focuses on the need to collaborate as "the common theme". Recalling my freshman level logic classes, as I read this: a. We do not know how to work together, with our self-interest corroding our efforts at collaboration. b. We think we should be the ones to fix this. c. Therefore: it is all the government's fault. I look forward to an analysis of this interesting finding.




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