Healthcare execs: ACA will help cut costs, improve outcomes

Despite public opinion about healthcare reform, a large majority of hospital executives believe the Affordable Care Act will improve healthcare, according to a survey conducted by Health Affairs.

Sixty-five percent of the executives polled believed that healthcare in the United States will be somewhat or significantly improved by 2020, according to the survey of 74 C-Suite executives from organizations with an average of 8,520 employees and yearly revenues of $1.5 billion.The research was led by Andrew Steinmetz of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy.

An even greater amount--93 percent--said they believed their own health system's quality of care would improve. "This is probably related to efforts to diminish hospital acquired conditions, medication errors, and unnecessary re-admissions, as encouraged by financial penalties in the ACA," the researchers wrote.

The executives' predictions on cost controls were similarly upbeat, the researchers found. Among the respondents:

  • Ninety-one percent predicted metrics of cost within their own health system would improve by 2020;

  • Eighty-five percent predicted their health system would be able to reduce its operating costs by 2020;

  • On average, executives predicted an 11.7 percent operating cost reduction, with predictions ranging from 0 to 30 percent;

  • The majority of executives believed legislation shifting healthcare away from the fee-for-service model and toward alternative models like bundled payments would allow them to cut operating costs even more; and

  • If such legislation were passed, execs anticipated annual savings of 16 percent, almost $100 billion per year.

In terms of achieving these savings, execs pointed to three primary strategies: reducing overall admissions (54 percent), reducing readmissions (49 percent) and reducing emergency room visits (39 percent).

"Leaders on the front lines of American healthcare appear to believe that the gravest challenges facing the system today--high cost and uneven quality--are surmountable," the researchers wrote. "They expect that by 2020, their own institutions, and the system at large, will be better, both in terms of cost and quality. If we work together to implement sensible reforms, in the near future the healthcare system will be better than it is today."

To learn more:
- read the survey