Cost control is key: HFMA

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE - David Burda, Me­lanie Evans and Beth Kutscher

The com­ing years will bring con­tin­ued deal-mak­ing and greater scru­tiny of hos­pi­tal and physi­cian per­for­mance on qual­ity and cost control, said speak­ers at this year’s Health­care Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion An­nual Na­tional In­sti­tute.

The yearly meet­ing, held dur­ing the last week of June, drew roughly 5,000 chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cers, trea­sur­ers, ac­coun­tants and other health­care fi­nance pro­fes­sion­als to Las Ve­gas for four days of speak­ers on health­care mar­kets and pol­icy. Talk of the U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion on the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act at the meet­ing was lim­ited to spec­u­la­tion; the HFMA con­fer­ence ended a day be­fore the court up­held nearly the en­tire law.

Hos­pi­tals and doc­tors will see ef­forts to mea­sure qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency ac­cel­er­ate as em­ploy­ers seek high-value providers, said Si­mon Stevens, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Unit­edHealth Group and chair­man of the Unit­edHealth Cen­ter for Health Re­form. “Per­for­mance as­sess­ment is hap­pen­ing and is go­ing to in­ten­sify,” said Stevens, one of the event’s fea­tured speak­ers.

Ahead of the con­fer­ence, the HFMA re­leased five guide­lines for the de­vel­op­ment of value mea­sures. The guide­lines call for value met­rics to pro­mote bet­ter care for in­di­vid­u­als, the pop­u­la­tion and to re­duce the cost of care, which are three goals widely known across the in­dus­try as the “triple aim.”

Met­rics should also be lim­ited, the guide­lines said, “to ju­di­ciously tar­get high-

pri­or­ity ar­eas of im­prove­ment.” Se­lec­tive use of in­cen­tives and penal­ties will help to avoid un­in­tended con­se­quences, the re­port said. Fi­nally, the guide­lines urge provider-spe­cific qual­ity and price in­for­ma­tion that’s use­ful to pa­tients. The in­dus­try can also ex­pect con­tin­ued con­sol­i­da­tion, driven by ac­cess to cap­i­tal and guided by strate­gic goals and po­ten­tial part­ners’ val­ues, said deal­mak­ers at the meet­ing.

Not-for-profit providers—hun­gry for cap­i­tal to make in­vest­ments in their phys­i­cal plants and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy—are won­der­ing whether they might be more suc­cess­ful if they could ac­cess the cap­i­tal avail­able to for-profit en­ti­ties, said James Olsen, manag­ing direc­tor in the health­care fi­nance group at Bank of Amer­ica Mer­rill Lynch. “That dis­cus­sion is new to the last 18 months or two years,” he said, not­ing that part­ner­ships be­tween not-for-profit and for-profit providers have “proven to be pretty suc­cess­ful.” For-profit sys­tems, mean­while, have been “very ag­gres­sive” in ex­pand­ing around the coun­try. “Most hos­pi­tals and sys­tems be­lieve they re­ally need to be the No. 1 or No. 2 in the mar­ket,” Olsen said.

Pri­vate-eq­uity firms—pre­vi­ously only in­ter­ested in for-profit providers—are also in­creas­ingly “cross­ing the bridge” to the not­for-profit space, said Phil Puc­cia­relli, manag­ing direc­tor of global health­care in­vest­ment bank­ing at Bank of Amer­ica.

DAVID BURDA

About 5,000 at­tended the con­fer­ence.

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