A new Definitive Healthcare survey polled healthcare leaders on the most important trends of the year.


Industry consolidation was listed as the most important trend of the year, leading the way with 25.2% of the votes, followed by consumerism at 14.4%.

Definitive tracked 803 mergers and acquisitions along with 858 affiliation and partnership announcements last year, a trend that is not expected to slow in 2019.

Thirty-five percent of healthcare M&A activity occurred in the long-term care field, according to CEO Jason Krantz.

Widespread industry consolidation as well as the growing influence of consumerism registered as the most important trends healthcare leaders are paying attention to in 2019, according to a Definitive Healthcare survey released Monday morning.

Industry consolidation was listed as the most important trend of the year, leading the way with 25.2% of the votes, followed by consumerism at 14.4%.

Other topics that received double-digit percentages of the vote were telehealth at 13.8%, AI and machine learning at 11.4%, and staffing shortages at 11.1%. Cybersecurity, EHR optimization, and wearables rounded out the list.

The top results are generally in-line with some of the top storylines from the past year in healthcare, including focus on several vertical megamergers and longstanding business models being redefined by consumer behavior.

Jason Krantz, CEO of Definitive Healthcare, told HealthLeaders that healthcare is becoming increasingly more complicated and leaders are looking at a host of business strategies to navigate industry challenges or emerging market conditions.

“Something that’s on the mind of all of the people that [Definitive Healthcare] has been talking to, whether they are pharma leaders, healthcare IT companies, or providers, is that they’re constantly grappling with all of these new regulations, consolidation, and new technologies,” Krantz said. “[They’re asking] ‘What does that mean for my business and how do I address my strategy as a result?'”

In 2018, Definitive tracked 803 mergers and acquisitions along with 858 affiliation and partnership announcements, a trend Krantz does not expect to slow in 2019.

While Krantz cited some of the major health system mergers from last year as examples, he said another area that is experiencing widespread M&A activity is the post-acute care side.

Thirty-five percent of healthcare M&A activity occurred in the long-term care field, according to Krantz, and this is indicative of hospitals seeking to control costs and drive down rising readmission rates.

It also relates to another issue likely to accelerate in the coming years, which are the staffing shortages facing providers.

The sector currently suffering the most are long-term care facilities, which struggle to maintain an adequate nursing workforce due to the advanced age of most doctors and nurses in the face of the rapidly aging baby boomer generation. Krantz warns that all providers are likely to face these issues going forward.

Krantz also expects consumerism to hold steady as a top issue facing healthcare, citing the growing popularity of urgent care centers and the interconnection of telehealth services to provide patients with care outside of the traditional delivery sites.

However, the growth of these are reliable business options are all dependent on figuring out an adequate reimbursement rates for telehealth services rendered, Krantz said, which has not been fully addressed.

“I think until [telehealth reimbursement rates] get completely figured out, it’s hard for the providers to invest heavily in it,” Krantz said. “This is why you see a lot of non-traditional providers getting into telehealth, but I think it is something that people are thinking about and they know they need to adjust to, though nobody’s stepping up and being first in [telehealth] right now.”

For AI, machine learning, wearables, and cybersecurity, though the responses are split into smaller amounts, Krantz emphasized their combined score, which encompasses more than 25% of total votes, as a sign that healthcare leaders are paying attention to the area despite market complexity.

He added that they are all interconnected issues that deal with technological changes health systems are aware they will have to address in the coming years.

One issue related to harnessing technological change is EHR optimization, which Krantz believes leaders on the provider side are finally starting to gain excitement around. He said most leaders who have waited years to set up a comprehensive EHR system and input data are in-line to now utilize the data in their respective system.

“There’s a lot of great data in there and people are starting to figure out how to utilize that and improve patient outcomes based on the sharing of data,” Krantz said. 




Staffing shortages top list of C-suite concerns in economic outlook, Premier says

Staffing shortages are top of mind for C-suite executives, with 41 percent of those surveyed for the Fall 2016 Premier Inc Economic Outlook calling it their biggest concern and the issue that will have the biggest impact on their system’s ability to deliver care.

That figure shot up 42 percent from the Spring 2016 outlook, results show. Health reform also topped worries, with 24 percent saying that would impact them most, followed by innovations in population health. Other concerns included drug shortages and emerging technology.

The survey polled healthcare executives on the biggest issues facing their supply chains and health systems as a whole. The most recent survey represents 52 health system C-suite executives across the United States.

Key findings also show workforce worries in other areas. The study found 72 percent of executives surveyed said they think the current supply of primary care physicians will not meet their needs over the next three years, and 51 percent don’t have enough nurse practitioners, physicians and other healthcare extenders.

CFO roundtable: 3 finance leaders on clinical staffing, retention issues

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The healthcare workforce represents one of hospitals’ biggest costs and affects every aspect of the organization, from the quality of patient care to the hospital’s bottom line. With such high stakes amid the transition to value-based care, leaders must ramp up recruiting and retention strategies while mitigating the effects of the nationwide staffing shortage.

At AMN Healthcare 2016 Workforce Summit in San Diego, Scott Becker, publisher of Becker’s Hospital Review, moderated a panel discussion with four health system finance executives on the top staffing challenges they are seeing in their organizations.

Panelists included Gary Raju, CFO of St. Louis-based Mercy Health System of Oklahoma; Chip Neuman, CFO of Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif.; and Brian Scott, CFO, chief administrative officer and treasurer of AMN Healthcare.

Here are three of the most interesting takeaways from the panel.