Providers and employers agree on certain aspects of healthcare delivery and are moving toward meaningful long-term partnerships.
That's among the survey findings to be released at the HFMA session "Bridging the Buyer-Supplier Gap-Creating Value in the Healthcare Marketplace," set for 11 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m Tuesday, June 22.
Cara Jareb, a consulting actuary at Watson Wyatt Worldwide in Washington, will discuss the results of the survey, "Delivering Value in a Difficult Market," based on responses from 587 healthcare organizations. For the second consecutive year, HFMA collaborated in the survey. Jareb also will discuss results from another report titled "Creating a Line of Sight: From Benefits to Business Results." That research, conducted with the Washington Business Group on Health, surveyed 293 executives who make healthcare purchasing decisions for their companies.
Employers (buyers) and providers (suppliers) agree that the top three reasons for increased medical-care costs are an aging population, new pharmaceuticals and technological advances.
Other survey highlights include a willingness for employers and providers to partner through long-term contracts, as well as a commitment to improve performance and communication flow. The surveys show that 35% of responding employers and 27% of responding providers have entered long-term partnerships. Long-term contracts are those for more than two years. About 53% of larger employers-those with more than 10,000 employees-have formed these partnerships, whereas on the providers' side, 44% of managed-care organizations and 40% of integrated delivery systems have established these long-term partnerships.
Many of these partnerships focus on wellness and productivity initiatives in the work force, meaning the employers and providers are striving to decrease time lost by employees because of sickness, Jareb says.
Despite the gain in long-term contracts, 54% of providers and 56% of employers say they have buyer-supplier relationships, rather than true partnerships. Only 4% of providers and 18% of employers consider their relationships true partnerships. In many other cases, both sides refer to adversarial relationships, or an "uneasy truce."
In general, the surveys show that when employers are deciding on health plans, they first focus on cost (89%), then employee access (85%), utilization (70%) and covered services (68%). Quality-improvement initiatives rank much lower on the list-only 34% of respondents, or ninth on the list of priorities-which may affect the way providers do business.
"As far as strategies (for providers) go, we found that, in general, offering a broad range of services and higher levels of patient service is effective," Jareb says. "Healthcare systems must go beyond episodic and acute care to consider the whole picture relating to overall health and productivity of the work force. That requires competence in technology and clinical management."