5 biggest concerns for health system executives in 2017

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A new set of concerns has emerged among hospital and health system executives, according to The Advisory Board Company's latest Annual Health Care CEO Survey.

The survey, which was completed by 183 C-suite executives between December and January, found the No. 1 concern among health system leaders in 2017 is improving patients' access to care in ambulatory or outpatient settings. Last year, this concern was ranked No. 6.

An entirely new concern — finding innovative ways to lower expenses — came in at second place. The No. 3 concern was boosting market share for outpatient surgical procedures, up from No. 10 in 2016.

"This shift in topic rankings reflects a change in hospital and health system priorities in part driven by current discussions on health care policy reform," said Chas Roades, chief research officer at The Advisory Board Company. "Improving cost-effective access for consumers, who are likely to bear more direct financial responsibility for the cost of care, will be a growing concern for healthcare providers in the coming decade. Our survey shows executives are considering new strategies to remake their cost structures to respond to the changing environment."

The survey asked executives to rank their level of concern on 26 issues. Here are the top five.

No. 1: Improving ambulatory access (57 percent)

No. 2: Innovative approaches to expense reduction (57 percent)

No. 3: Boosting outpatient procedural market share (55 percent)

No. 4: Minimizing unwarranted clinical variation (53 percent)

No. 5: Controlling avoidable utilization (49)

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