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Revenues, AI, patient health – executives speak out

News
Article

Report details ‘C-Suite Agenda’ for next two years.

health care teamwork concept: © laddawan - stock.adobe.com

© laddawan - stock.adobe.com

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the hottest thing going in health care, but it will not mean much if health systems don’t have money to operate.

Meanwhile, electronic medical records (EMRs) appear to be delivering more of the same – complaints, according to a new survey.

“The New Healthcare C-Suite Agenda: 2024-2025,” based on interviews with 108 health system and hospital C-Suit executives, was published this year by research firm Sage Growth Partners.

“C-Suites are facing a number of shifting challenges – and adjusting their priorities accordingly,” the report said. “Executives say their organizations are principally focused on growing revenue, reducing costs, and improving patient safety.”

A majority – 57% – said growing revenue would be the top strategic initiative for the next year. Even more – 60% – said they believe an economic recession is likely, with 81% anticipating it would hurt their organizations. To prepare, 52% said they would reduce costs by improving efficiencies and 42% said they would review suppliers to identify where they can set limits. Financial sustainability and lowering total cost of care both led the five greatest challenges facing U.S. health care in the next two years, the report said.

AI hype?

Regarding AI, 26% of executives said AI applications were integrated into current workflows very well or somewhat well; 38% said not very well or somewhat not well, and 25% were neutral.

But a full 71% said it is too early to tell if integrating AI has directly resulted in saving costs or generating revenues.

“Despite the tremendous hype around AI in 2023, particularly generative AI, the penetration of artificial intelligence in health care is broader than it is deep,” the report said. “To date, AI integrations have led to improvements in data quality and accessibility (45%), and data privacy and security (37%). At the same time, 35% of survey respondents say AI integration has not led to any of the benefits, and 20% say it creates regulatory and legal challenges.”

The executives agreed they will invest in operational and clinical uses for AI in the next year.

EMR woes

EMR systems now are more than 10 years old and “C-Suites are largely unhappy with their vendor.” The causes: lack of data interoperability and frustrating integrations with other data sources and systems.

Only 17% of executives “strongly agree” that their current EMRs will meet the majority of their organization’s needs going forward; that figure has declined from 2022 and 2020.

The technology may stall efforts to use telehealth more often or establishing care at home services.

Just 14% of executives said in-home services integrate moderately well or very well with current EMRs; that figure rose to 37% for telehealth.

Those figures “signal that home-at-health models remain a long way off despite the excitement and buzz surrounding the trend,” the report said.

Virtual visits

The executives noted virtual visits for the last 12 months were down in behavioral health, primary care, specialty care, urgent care, and pre/post-op care. Despite the difficulties with EMRs, all predicted there will be more virtual visits in the next 12 months, with telehealth ranging from 20% of urgent care visits up to 41% of behavioral health visits. For primary care, the figure was 28%; none of the increases were expected to reach the levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patient health

A full 65% of executives said the health of their patient populations is worse than pre-pandemic times; that is up from 52% in 2022. Just 5% are confident patients have caught up on delayed care. Primary care is making progress, and the executives said they hope to extend primary care office hours to re-engage patients. Social media campaigns and increased telehealth visits also are in the mix, but interest in those dropped slightly from the 2022 survey to last year.

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