Hospital CEOs rank financial challenges as top concern

Thanks in part to the seismic changes surrounding the healthcare industry, hospital executives' top concern in 2014 was how to meet the financial challenges associated with running their businesses, according to the results of an annual survey conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

The findings from this year's survey were similar to those from surveys in 2012 and 2013, when financial challenges also topped CEOs' list of concerns. However, in 2012 executives' second highest-rated concern was patient safety and quality, an issue that slid down the list in 2013 and 2014 in favor of concerns about healthcare reform implementation.

"Taking care of patients and improving patient safety and quality in their organizations is job No. 1, but CEOs acknowledge they must do so in a climate of complex payment reform, dwindling reimbursement and government mandates," Deborah J. Bowen, president and CEO of ACHE, said in a statement accompanying the published results of the survey.

Despite all the attention given to managing population health and improving patient satisfaction, these issues were prioritized sixth and eighth highest, respectively, by healthcare executives out of 10 total top concerns. Population health also was among the hottest topics during the 2014 ACHE Congress in Chicago, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Further, in a result that perhaps supports the doubts surrounding the oft-predicted physician shortfalls, personnel shortages were ranked all three years as the lowest concern.

Here's the full list of the top issues confronting hospital executives, ranked by survey respondents from most to least important:

  1. Financial challenges
  2. Healthcare reform implementation
  3. Governmental mandates
  4. Patient safety and quality
  5. Care for the uninsured/underinsured
  6. Patient satisfaction
  7. Physician-hospital relations
  8. Population health management
  9. Technology
  10. Personnel shortages

Within the category of financial challenges, hospital CEOs ranked Medicaid reimbursement, bad debt and decreasing inpatient volume as their top concerns. Of all financial concerns, emergency department (ED) overuse was ranked lowest, despite reports that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has led to an influx of ED visits, as FierceHealthcare has reported.

To learn more:
- check out the survey results