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    The healthcare exec's healthy business checklist for 2016

    Healthcare spending is its slowest level of growth in 50 years, at $316 billion less than the 2013 level, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS says quality has gone up as spending has decreased, with hospital-acquired injuries and infections down 17%, saving an estimated $12 billion. Finally, accountable care organizations (ACOs) now provide healthcare to one in 14 Americans, resulting in $417 million in savings for Medicare, says HHS.

    But the road to better healthcare doesn’t come easy. Slow and steady is the motto for dealing with the challenges payers will face in 2016, according to industry watchdogs. Here are three things that they say should top your to-do list to ensure a successful 2016.

    1. Build up physician leadership at your organization

    Don Hutton, founder of the Morgan Executive Development Institute, which specializes in executive and physician coaching and leadership development, says healthcare is going through a “transformational change” right now in terms of reimbursement and reporting, and hospital systems are also moving toward a shift in leadership.

    HuttonHutton“One of the things that is so hot right now is physician leadership,” Hutton says. “All sorts of [hospitals and health plans] are employing physicians as leaders, because of what is happening in the industry.”

    Physicians have unique insight into the needs of the patient population, particularly in a climate that emphasizes value-based care over fee-for-service. Their knowledge of optimal patient outcomes and how to achieve them can aid in planning for a switch to value-based reimbursement, he says.

    “What is required in today’s market is the need to make transformational changes in the way medicine in practiced without losing sight of the patient’s needs,” Hutton says. “The only group qualified to make these changes are physicians, and in order to get physicians to be involved in making those changes there must be physician leaders to lead the effort. In the past non-physicians have tried to force changes on physicians and these efforts have failed.”

    Not all physicians are suited for leadership, however, and payers should carefully consider whether they have enough people, and the right people, in physician leadership roles. “Start finding your highly effective physician leaders, and if you don’t have them, train them,” Hutton says. “Lay people cannot drive this change.”
     

    Next: The second to-do list item

    Rachael Zimlich
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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