'What's the future of the hospital?' 4 healthcare executives on the biggest challenges facing healthcare in 2020

Among the many issues the healthcare industry is grappling with, some of those most pressing to hospital and health system executives are the need for economic revitalization, the diversification of care sites and the general opacity shrouding the future of care delivery.

During a keynote panel at the Becker's Hospital Review CEO + CFO Roundtable on Nov. 11 in Chicago, four healthcare executives discussed the biggest challenges facing health systems in the coming years.

Panelists included Lynn Simon, MD, CMO and president of clinical operations at Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems; Jaewon Ryu, MD, president and CEO of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger; Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and John Starcher Jr., president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health.

When asked about the transformation they would like to see occur in healthcare in 2020 and beyond, the panelists all agreed that a major reduction in the overall complexity of the current system should be first and foremost, with a reduction in barriers to care and a renewed focus on fostering innovation to proactively keep people healthy, rather than reactively treating illness.

The panelists were also asked about what challenges in healthcare keep them up at night. Their answers ranged from issues surrounding affordability to general curiosity about the future of the industry:

  • "What's the future of the hospital?" Dr. Simon said. "We're going to have to think about other sites of care, so looking at our outpatient portfolio and the list of assets that support them, whether that's physician practices, urgent care, walk-in clinics, ASCs and so on."
  • "The changing paradigm in terms of DRG reimbursements in different settings of care puts an extraordinary cost pressure on our organizations with respect to inflation and the ever-increasing rate inflationary pressures that we have, most of which is driven by a tight labor market," Mr. Starcher said. "You're talking about 3, 4, 5 percent increases in cost and at the same time, revenues that, if we're lucky, are going up 1 or 2 percent in the same store."
  • "Curiosity often keeps me up at night, about what are the changing models, and how do we make sure that we can achieve our mission or vision as we have the opportunities and challenges that we're facing?" Ms. Decker said. "The other area is how do we continue to recruit and retain high-performing talent? ... We can always train skills, but do we have the right people with the emotional or motivational impact?"
  • "Our coverage areas run the gamut: We have some urban areas but also wide swaths of rural geographies, so what really keeps me up at night is economic revitalization," Dr. Ryu said. "We have a lot of areas that have, frankly, seen better days, and the call to action for us to drive affordability in healthcare is probably even more pronounced in some of the areas where we are."

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