To make sure this newsletter doesn't turn into a fishbowl, sometimes I turn outward to the social media networks to see what people are saying about the issues that interest you. This week, I posed a question to members of a healthcare finance group on professional networking service LinkedIn, as follows:
"Do you think hospitals will change their long-term strategies to stay afloat during this recession and beyond? (And if so, how?) Or do you think they'll just need to tighten their belts for now?"
The results I got from my little experiment were intriguing. Here's some of the responses I received, below. As you'll see, there's a diversity of opinion out there, but a few themes stood out:
"Those hospitals that may have allocated budgets to technology may have to rethink that strategy since they may not have the funding required to cover the costs of a large system upgrade. Many hospitals will look to outsourcing as a strategy to reduce costs in the future."
-- Nav Ranajee, VP, Director of Healthcare Solutions, Fifth Third Bank
"Hospitals will need to look to outside vendors. It's a very simple concept, use contingency-based vendors to manage your bad debt which will create additional cash flow without any upfront investment."
-- David Noriega, Managing Member, Nori Corp.
Institutional change planning:
"I think the dilemma hospitals face today is that the staff has become accustomed to fighting change. You look at healthcare and a large majority of the professional and clinical positions, they are all in high demand. Problem being that the talent pool is not available to accommodate the demand....We as hospitals, communities, and government must start succession planning and recruiting young talent now."
-- Tanya Hawkins, independent consultant, interim finance and reimbursement solutions
"[Despite what people say,] there is money for hospitals. In fact there is hedge-fund money sitting on the sidelines right now with BILLIONS for acquisition and development, construction, equipment, buy-outs, debt consolidations, medical lien funding, and the list could go on...It's happening right now. Mark my words, the next seven to 10 years will be for mergers and acquisition in healthcare what it was for finance and investment firms in the 80s."
-- Jorel Jenious, owners, Jenious Capital Group
So, readers, it's your turn. Do you think hospitals will have to simply cut back and re-trim their sails for a while to survive the crashed economy, or will it bring structural changes? Do you think LinkedIn's readers are on track or off point? Let us know--we'd love to hear from you! - Anne
P.S. - If you're a social media type--or even if you're not yet, but ready to dive in--please do follow us at @fiercehealth on Twitter. Lots of good discussion and ideas flowing there! (We'll save you a virtual seat.)