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Hospital Executives See Future Growth in Outpatient, Higher-Value Care, Survey Finds

Advisory Board's Annual Health Care CEO Survey also shows focus on better collaboration between hospitals and their networks of physicians

Company Release - 4/6/2017 4:42 PM ET

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The top concerns for C-level hospital and health system executives have undergone a significant disruption over the past year, with three new topics rising into the Top 5, according to Advisory Board's Annual Health Care CEO Survey.

The No. 1 concern was improving patients' access to care in ambulatory or outpatient settings, according to the nationwide survey of 183 C-suite executives conducted in December 2016 and January 2017. The topic ranked sixth a year ago. A new topic for this year's survey, finding innovative ways to reduce expenses, entered the ranks in second place. Just behind was boosting market share for outpatient surgical procedures, up from 10th a year ago.

"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 Advisory Board.  "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 health care 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 about their level of concern for 26 topics, ranging from preparing for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to nonmerger partnership and affiliation models.  The top five areas of extreme interest to hospital and health system executives are:

  1. Improving ambulatory access (57%),
  2. Innovative approaches to expense reduction (57%),
  3. Boosting outpatient procedural market share (55%),
  4. Minimizing unwarranted clinical variation (54%), and
  5. Controlling avoidable utilization (49%).

The top four concerns each drew a higher percentage of extremely interested C-level executives than last year's No. 1 topic. A year ago, minimizing unwanted variation in care cost and quality topped the field at 53%. This year, controlling avoidable utilization of care resources held steady at fifth.

Overall, the changes in interest point to hospitals and health systems increasingly seeing their relationships with physicians as potential points of differentiation from other providers in their communities.  

"The uncertainty on timing and specifics of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as MACRA, are creating more momentum from physicians to seek support and alignment with health systems," said Lisa Bielamowicz, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Research at Advisory Board.  "While demand for physician employment is at a near-record high, hospitals should use this moment to refocus their physician strategies on building a network centered on delivering accessible, lower cost, and reliable health care. This will advantage systems regardless of the specifics of payment reform."

Advisory Board's membership includes some of the largest and most progressive hospitals and health systems in the United States.  Survey questions are based on Advisory Board's more than 10,000 annual research interviews with health care executives.

For further insight into the topics of greatest interest to hospital and health system leaders, visit the Advisory Board's At the Helm blog.

About Advisory Board
Advisory Board is a best practices firm that uses a combination of research, technology, and consulting to improve the performance of 4,400+ health care organizations. As the health care business of The Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ: ABCO), Advisory Board forges and finds the best new ideas and proven practices from its network of thousands of leaders, then customizes and hardwires them into every level of member organizations, creating enduring value. For more information, visit


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SOURCE The Advisory Board Company