Hospitals nowadays have to focus on a series of trials coming from the anticipation to offer more services. People also expect them to provide better quality with less human, financial and material resources, which calls for the need for utilization management in healthcare centers or hospitals.
Based on the 2003 survey done by the American Hospital Association (AHA), overall expenditures for every community hospital in the U.S. were over USD 450 billion.
In handling these expenses, hospitals have to break through the following issues:
- The requirement to finance infrastructure enhancements and physical plant upgrades, besides expansions to attend to multiplying demand
- Price hikes in pharmaceuticals and medical supplies
- Growing pressure to provide funds to clinical information technology
- Highest shortages of technicians, nurses and pharmacists
- Discounted compensation rates with insurers
- An increasing number of unpaid patients
- Rising charges linked to amply serving high-risk ailments, including HIV/AIDS, heart disease and cancer
- Yearly possible reductions in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements
- The transfer of more profitable disorders to surgery centers, as well as, freestanding and specialty ambulatory care facilities
- Increasing bad debt caused by rising patient accountability for the price of care
To conquer such pressure, hospitals must come up with innovative methods to please the demand of the public for accessibility, safety and quality. They also have to think of approaches to finance required capital investments aside from knowing how to balance expenses and revenues effectively.
Investing in Hospitalist Programs
A way to resolve the challenges is to integrate a hospitalist program. In its short history, it already has a profound effect on inpatient care.
The associate chair in the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco named Robert M. Wachter, MD conducted a study with his colleagues to prove this. The results showed a substantial return on investment of 5.8:1 when facilities used a hospitalist program.
Based on the 2003 survey of healthcare trends by AHA, the financial health of the country’s hospitals will still be delicate and fickle for years to come.
The survey mentioned key factors, such as the requirement to invest in facility maintenance and technology, decreasing operating margins and a constant reduction in reimbursement.
Fortunately, hospitalists have demonstrated that they can be of value to the processes of a healthcare facility.