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Misaligned operations, fragmented payment systems, clunky technology and unfilled jobs—they’re an all-too-common reality within many healthcare organizations. But leaders are eager to use new technologies and strategies to address and eventually surmount these challenges.

Healthcare leaders from hospital systems, providers and healthcare technology platforms gathered in October at J.P. Morgan’s 10th annual Healthcare Advisory Council in New York, where they explored the challenges and trends facing the industry.

Here are three key takeaways from the event:

1. Pressed for personnel

Healthcare providers are struggling to attract and retain clinical and non-clinical talent, including laboratory, dietary and environmental service roles. The acute shortage across venues, regions and specialties is having a well-documented impact on outcomes, patient satisfaction, costs and driving notable organizational inefficiencies.

While the situation has been magnified by the current labor market and pandemic burnout, the pattern started decades ago. Several panelists referenced an American College of Healthcare Executives’ survey, which cited personnel shortages as the top issue with 94% of executives saying they need more registered nurses. According to one CEO, “The new pandemic is finding staff.”

Panelists focused on flexibility, manager engagement, mission alignment and individual contributions to attract and retain employees. Panelists offered several solutions, including:

  • Flexibility and mobility: Flexible schedules, advancement and mobility opportunities, and competitive compensation structures are critical for all healthcare personnel.
  • Employees’ calling: Healthcare workers chose a career serving others in need. Emphasize your mission and provide individualized guidance on how to achieve it.
  • “Stay interviews”: The traditional exit interview doesn’t offer a complete picture of employee sentiment. Engaging current employees with “stay interviews” could help you better assess workplace well-being.
  • Outsourcing: After years of investment and refinement, many time-consuming administrative tasks can be outsourced to technology. Be proactive in breaking down job responsibilities and guide teams to triage the most pressing clinical needs while delegating other tasks to administrative staff or outside vendors, capitalizing on the gig economy.

2. Consumerism at a crossroads

Healthcare advancements aim to create more choices for consumers so they can seek out the right care at the best value. While health professionals are embracing technology that can empower patients, patients and their employers are often making healthcare choices with limited information and unclear goals. Causes may include:

  • Time, effort and out-of-pocket costs can prevent people from seeking healthcare when it’s needed. To fight that, systems should encourage health literacy so consumers can make informed choices.
  • New data is challenging early assumptions about the accessibility and popularity of telehealth. In one example, a health system found that some of its patients in rural areas still preferred face-to-face appointments despite significant travel time. Patients in urban areas, on the other hand, were more likely to embrace telehealth. Bottom line: Hybrid offerings with easy patient interfaces are key.
  • Consumers prefer digital payments and tools that offer a complete picture of their medical expenses and greater transparency into prices and individual obligations ahead of care.
  • Disparities in health often align with disparities in technology and banking. As digital payments become more common, health systems must be mindful about which payment methods are accessible to the most vulnerable.

3. Impetus for integrated care

Enhanced collaboration between clinicians can result in better health outcomes, lower expenses and more positive patient experiences. There are many reasons to integrate care, including:

  • Building “connective tissue” between providers and systems provides continuity for the patient  and a holistic view of information for providers from the emergency room to post-acute and specialties. Without it, patients navigate referrals and follow-up care independently, which consistently results in lower quality outcomes.
  • Integrated models with consistent, real-time access to medical records across providers may drive optimized care across settings. As organizations move to an integrated model, they should be rigorous in constantly measuring outcomes to refine approach.
  • Home-based care is on track to expand as the U.S. population ages and technology advances. One hospital’s home-based acute care program reduced 30-day readmissions by 75% and lowered costs per admission by 30%.

Championing change

Modernizing healthcare is a project that requires a steady commitment over decades. But the industry is ready for and embracing disruption. With increasing collaboration between major health systems, smaller providers, healthcare technology platforms and significant investment from a variety of sources dedicated to innovation, the industry is poised to continue improving upon better quality and cost-efficient care for patients.

We’re here to help

J.P. Morgan has years of experience in the healthcare sector, and we can help you navigate the shifting business landscape. Contact one of our bankers to learn more.

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