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Staffing shortages top list of C-suite concerns in economic outlook, Premier says

Other workforce issues, drug shortages and price hikes are also top of mind, Premier's Fall 2016 Economic Outlook shows.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Staffing shortages are top of mind for C-suite executives, with 41 percent of those surveyed for the Fall 2016 Premier Inc Economic Outlook calling it their biggest concern and the issue that will have the biggest impact on their system's ability to deliver care.

That figure shot up 42 percent from the Spring 2016 outlook, results show. Health reform also topped worries, with 24 percent saying that would impact them most, followed by innovations in population health. Other concerns included drug shortages and emerging technology.

The survey polled healthcare executives on the biggest issues facing their supply chains and health systems as a whole. The most recent survey represents 52 health system C-suite executives across the United States.

Key findings also show workforce worries in other areas. The study found 72 percent of executives surveyed said they think the current supply of primary care physicians will not meet their needs over the next three years, and 51 percent don't have enough nurse practitioners, physicians and other healthcare extenders.

[Also: Most hospitals fall short of national staffing guidelines for palliative care, study shows]

Transitioning from volume to value-based care is proving at least somewhat successful, respondents said. Results showed success in two major areas: 81 percent of execs surveyed are managing the transition from fee-for-service to alternative payment models and 94 percent said they are successfully reporting performanced-based metrics.

Drug costs and shortages have been a consistent concern for execs over the past year, and that trend continues. Over the past year, more than 90 percent said price increases and drug shortages posed big issues for their organizations, and that figure held for the Fall 2016 outlook results.

When it comes to cost management, healthcare leaders are looking to reduce costs but not lose out on high quality and are taking steps to explore strategies that help them do that, survey results showed. About 83 percent said their exploring risk-based contracting will be important for their supply chain teams, and 67 percent of respondents predicted that their annual investment in supply chain will go up over the next three years.

[Also: Healthcare staffing gaps push salaries up for most medical professionals]

Capital investments are growing, as are capital budgets, which is why 60 of healthcare executives who responded said capital budgets increased compared to last year. Healthcare information technology continued to lead in terms of investment for the sixth consecutive year, with 70 percent of leaders saying it's a key focus for capital investments. Also, 51 percent cited facility construction, and 45 percent pointed to facility renovation as key focus areas. Others included lab, surgical and imaging equipment.

Responses were mixed around healthcare IT, with 90 percent of execs saying they are enhancing user comfort with their EHRs and 80 percent claiming they are able to access ambulatory data from their employed physician networks. However, 59 percent said they can't access ambulatory data from their non-employed physician network and the same number aren't successful at using telemedicine for primary care visits.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn

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