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Healthcare leaders expect big shift toward outpatient care

Largest expenditures expected to go toward healthcare IT and telecommunications.


By Rachel Landen
Posted: April 29, 2013 - 2:00 pm ET
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As the care delivery models of hospitals and health systems evolve, healthcare executives and materials and practice area managers predict a major shift in admissions from inpatient to outpatient settings.

According to Premier healthcare alliance's spring 2013 Economic Outlook, 69% of the survey participants predict that outpatient volume will rise in 2013, as compared to last year's volume. And as outpatient admissions are projected to increase, nearly 24% of respondents suggest that inpatient volume this year will drop.

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“With reimbursement cuts and changes in care delivery threatening today's status quo, healthcare providers face a significant change imperative as they transition toward more accountable, value-based care models,” Mike Alkire, chief operating officer of Premier, said in a news release. “Ensuring patients are cared for in the most efficient manner—without compromising quality—is key to success. This means more care is being shifted to less intensive and expensive outpatient care sites, with lower reimbursement rates.”

In fact, nearly half of survey participants—48%—cited reimbursement cuts as having the greatest impact on their organizations, though the largest expenditures are expected to go toward healthcare information technology and telecommunications, according to 43% of those surveyed. That's up 21% from two years ago.

“The closer we can get to real-time information and get it in the hands of providers, the more likely the right things will be done and opportunities won't be missed,” Dr. Eric Bieber, chief medical officer of University Hospitals of Cleveland, said in the release.

Even so, 32% said they're not currently able to share data across the care continuum, an issue which, according to Bieber, creates “variation and redundancies that may degrade care quality and efficiency.”

Respondents also pointed to accountable care organizations as a method for integrating care across the continuum. About 22% are currently involved in an ACO, and that number is expected to more than double by the end of next year.

Other survey results and economic and industry trends can be viewed online or in a printed version of Premier's Economic Outlook. Premier, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., represents more than 2,800 hospitals and 93,000 other healthcare sites with a mission to improve community health through higher quality and more cost-effective healthcare.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden


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