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    3 Challenges Facing Hospitals Today (and How to Address Them)

    Hospital margins are slim, and the healthcare industry as a whole is changing rapidly. Staying competitive in such an environment depends in part on how well hospitals today are able to meet the following three challenges.

    Lowering Operating Costs While Improving Patient Outcomes

    In a recent survey of hospital CEOs by the American College of Healthcare Executives, financial challenges ranked as the top concern for administrators — particularly the rising cost of supplies and staff, as well as high operating costs overall.

    Hospitals nowadays face the monumental task of trying to lower operating costs across the board while simultaneously improving patient incomes. This underscores the rising importance of healthcare data analytics — which can help hospitals identify opportunities to reduce operational inefficiencies and make targeted improvements to bolster patient outcomes.

    Connecting decision makers with data insights helps them drive performance toward these goals of reducing operating expenses and strengthening patient outcomes. Here’s an example: The Miami Children’s Hospital deployed search-driven analytics from ThoughtSpot to address this exact challenge — giving doctors, clinicians and hospital staff the ability to analyze data related to patient care and operations on the spot without having to wait for the creation of new custom reports.

    Keeping Pace with Changing Consumer Expectations

    Healthcare today is more consumer-centric than ever before; patients are increasingly taking the reins on their “consumer journey,” which means hospitals have to adapt in order to earn their loyalty and revenue. Failing to meet shifting consumer expectations can have a significant impact on a hospital’s reputation and revenue.

    What do consumers want and expect from hospitals nowadays? Here are a few areas in which consumer demand is actively changing with time:

    Convenience

    In a survey of more than 223,000 healthcare consumers, more than half (51 percent) rated convenience and access to care as the top factor affecting their decisions to choose providers. This means the desire for convenience beats out insurance coverage and quality of care.

    Appointment Availability

    Consider both the availability of appointments and how people are able to book them. Millennials and Gen Xers are increasingly turning toward booking appointments online, for instance. Hospitals must take an intensive look at the efficiency of their scheduling practices and how easy it is for people to find open slots.

    Opportunities for Engagement

    Hospital-consumer communications used to center around phone calls and letters. But now patients are seeking more flexible yet secure ways to engage — like accessing lab test results through online portals and conversing with providers via telemedicine.

    Good reputation

    People can now approach healthcare like they do any other business — such as restaurants, hotels and mechanics — thanks in part to the proliferation of consumer reviews across online platforms like Yelp, Google, Facebook and Healthgrades. A less-than-stellar reputation amongst peers is cause enough for many consumers to choose another hospital.

    The first step toward keeping pace with changing consumer expectations is to understand them. Hospitals need to keep their fingers on the pulse of patient wants and needs, so to speak. Figuring out how to administer useful surveys with good patient response rates is the first step, as is tracking reputational indicators like online ratings over time.

    #3. Staying on Top of Regulatory Changes

    As Becker’s Hospital Review notes, healthcare has taken somewhat of a center stage in politics — the debate about the best way to approach health insurance rages on. In the meantime, hospitals have to stay on top of regulatory changes and requirements surrounding Medicare and Medicaid eligibility as well as HIPAA standards and more. This requires hospitals to invest in the legal and compliance resources necessary to stay on top of changes coming down the pipeline, as well as effectively share information with all involved parties.

    Hospitals today are facing a number of pressing challenges, including the pressure to lower operating costs, improve patient experience, meet shifting consumer expectations and handle regulatory changes in stride.

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