Black Book: Financial system technology key to hospital survival

A majority of hospital chief financial officers say the reimbursement challenges ahead require that they make financial system technology a priority--in fact, it's key to their institution's survival, according to a new Black Book survey.

In the poll of more than 800 financial executives, 54 percent report they had no choice but to turn to next-generation software and outsourced services to keep their organizations solvent.

"Trends in Medicare reimbursement, declining inpatient volumes, rising expenses and bad debt have most hospitals across the country struggling to avoid a financial stability crisis," according to Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Market Research, in an announcement.

"[T]he frank reality is that outdated, understaffed and failing current solutions could quickly close a marginally performing hospital for good," he says.

Other survey findings:

  • Ninety-one percent of CFOs with negative 2013 operating margins implement a technology infrastructure to support value-based models, while the majority of revenue continues to be fee-for-service.
  • Ninety-three percent of hospitals with negative operating margins prioritized capital investments for the next 12 months in coding, value-based support software, collections and revenue cycle management outsourcing.
  • Eighty-four percent of struggling hospitals put population health, analytics, physician practice acquisitions and patient engagement on the back burner.
  • Eighty percent of CFOs with hospitals performing at margins supporting long-term viability report they have initiated revenue cycle management transformations. They also plan 2015 capital expenditures for upgraded tools such as analytics and business intelligence, population health, physician portals and patient engagement solutions.

In a recent HIMSS Analytics survey, 25 percent of organizations report sustaining financial viability was their top business objective, up from 15 percent in 2012.

Though healthcare providers remain wary of value-based care models, Fierce Healthcare reported that hospitals have historically survived reforms that applied financial pressure--and in unexpected ways, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers noted in an analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

To learn more:
- read the announcement