by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | April 30, 2013
Outpatient is in: 69 percent of survey respondents projected an increase in outpatient volume for 2013, while only 35 percent predicted an increase in inpatient volume. The Premier Healthcare Alliance survey gathered responses from 530 hospital C-suite, materials and practice area managers on their 2013 economic outlook, including capital investment plans and ACO intentions.
Inpatient volume predictions marked a 30 percent decrease from predictions last year. Respondents predicting a decrease in inpatient volume rose 28 percent from 2012.
A third of respondents cited health care legislation and mandates as the biggest driver of health care costs, like contributing to the shift from outpatient to inpatient. In another recent survey, from Hospitals & Health Networks, 15 percent of respondents were planning new outpatient facility construction.
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But making the change means challenging adjustments in protocol, Kayla Sutton, managing director for economic outlook at Premier Healthcare Alliance, told DOTmed News.
"A patient who comes for an inpatient procedure and is there three days — there are three days for that discharge team to put together their post procedural care," said Sutton. "It's important to decrease the lapse that could be possible by losing that discharge care plan time."
Patients with the wrong information or prescription plan may need to be readmitted, undoing cost savings, so a clear understanding is critical for outpatient care, said Sutton.
Follow the money
Forty-three percent of respondents plan to make health IT their biggest capital investment in 2013, up from 21 percent two years ago.
Investments aren't just for meeting Meaningful Use, Sutton said.
"There's also a lot of movement for providers spending more money on advanced analytics for population health management, and more advanced health information technologies, besides just what you look at for the EHR," said Sutton.
Infrastructure investments came in second place, with 33 percent of respondents citing that as their largest upcoming cost. The rest went to equipment purchases that varied based on the facility or system's needs.
"We have seen, since fall 2011, equipment as a percentage of overall capital spending has decreased, as health systems become a little more standardized and are seeking ways to optimize their resources and equipment," said Sutton.
Sutton said she and her team were not surprised by the survey responses, but were glad to see that 22 percent of respondents were part of an Accountable Care Organization, and 55 percent planned to be part of one by 2014.
"I think it's encouraging that there's movement toward accountable, value-based health care," said Sutton.