- Hospital chief executives' top priority for 2019 is boosting ambulatory access, which marks a shift away from last year's focus on cost control to revenue growth, according to Advisory Board's annual CEO survey.
- CEOs want to focus on expanding their businesses, as two of the top three concerns relate to improving ambulatory care access and strengthening primary care, according to the survey of 90 CEOs.
- Rounding out the top five spots of topics most important to the CEOs were minimizing unwarranted clinical variation, redesigning services for population health and innovative approaches to reducing expenses.
CEO concerns about meeting the demands for outpatient services mirror trends showing more care is moving toward the outpatient setting.
As care shifts away from hospitals, traditional health systems now find themselves competing with nontraditional players such as CVS' Minute Clinics for a patient's business.
However, even as health systems face stiff competition from outsiders, analysts say they're still hold a relatively strong position. Nonprofit hospitals, for example, have turned around their balance sheets after some unsustainable years. Though major headwinds persist, S&P expects a relatively stable outlook for nonprofit hospitals.
After improvement in the balance sheet, CEOs are looking for top-line growth.
“Executives are more interested in moving upstream to capture revenue growth through ambulatory access and primary care, rather than traditional strategies of boosting hospital market share,” Yulan Egan, practice manager of research at Advisory Board, said in a statement.
But as usage trends continue to change, executives are also concerned about redesigning their services to better address population health.
Ascension, one of the nation's largest nonprofit systems, is pivoting away from its traditional hospital-centric focus and recalibrating services and their intensity.
The transformation is already underway in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In D.C. the focus is on tending to seniors and partnering with community resources to achieve that goal, though the shift away from acute care led to community outcry last year.