Community Hospitals Gather at Virtual Conference to Tackle Top Challenges Together

September 30, 2020

More than 1,300 attendees gathered virtually earlier this week to attend Strata Decision Technology’s user conference, LIFT20. The annual conference often brings together leaders from healthcare’s top hospitals to meet in downtown Chicago, IL. This year, the event pivoted to a 100 percent virtual, 100 percent free event that accommodated more than 200 healthcare delivery systems and featured online breakout discussions between peer groups.

Attendees had the opportunity to connect and share their experiences and challenges with their peers from across the country. Whether they were looking for the chance to discuss the challenges of the traditional budget, success stories from healthcare data integration, or even looking to compare strategies for strategic planning and decision support in their unique U.S. regions, they were able to join in on conversations and networking sessions created specifically for them.

Among the many different breakout discussions, Strata hosted 36 community and critical access hospital leaders for their own discussion of the unique challenges they face. One of the many silver linings to the pivot towards a virtual event was the ability to bring together so many individuals who would not normally have been able to attend our Summit in person. Those like the attendees from community and critical access hospitals who could network and share their common experiences.

How Community Hospitals Are Taking On Shared Challenges Using Technology

Learn more about some of the shared obstacles these hospitals are facing in 2020.

Remaining Independent without Financial Planning Tools

During the session, representatives from community and critical access hospitals shared that they were struggling to remain independent, despite their desire to do so in order to better serve their communities.

“We don’t want to merge,” one reporting manager shared. “But it feels like we have no choice.”

As many already know, hospitals in smaller communities face challenges that those in larger areas simply don’t. Geographic isolation, workforce shortages, and resource constraints can make it harder to deliver high-quality care and to stay independent.

Managing the Culture Change in Using a Healthcare Decision Support Platform

When discussing their challenges, a number of community hospital leaders shared that their biggest obstacle was the culture change.

“The hardest part,” one hospital shared, “is getting buy-in to use the system as part of their workflow.”

For many of these hospitals, shifting their organization from using a homegrown system to a more unified budgeting and planning platform was proving to be one of their toughest challenges.

Lack of Healthcare Data Technology Resources

Some shared that they lacked access to the information they needed. Before working to integrate their EHR system with another platform, one organization shared that they lacked data necessary to integrate those systems.

Adjusting to New Financial Planning Strategies

As more and more organizations move away from a traditional budget and begin to adopt advanced financial planning strategies, even community hospitals are looking to adjust.

During the session, community hospital leaders shared their organization’s need to adopt new strategies and encourage decision-makers to rely less on their Finance teams.

“The question of whether something is ‘in the budget’ won’t cut it anymore,” one financial analyst shared.

Instead, they suggested that managers need to think of their department as “their own business,” taking ownership for performance and costs where Finance may have led before.

Top 3 Critical Challenges Community Hospitals Face in the Market

Working over the last 20 years to help heal healthcare, we at Strata feel acutely aware of the needs of some of the most vital members of the U.S. healthcare system: community and critical access hospitals.

We built our Community Program to help address these critical challenges. The Program is a turn-key offering of our traditional, award-winning StrataJazz® financial planning, analytics, and performance platform.

We know that hospitals in smaller communities face challenges that those in larger areas simply don’t. Geographic isolation, workforce shortages, and resource constraints can make it harder to deliver high-quality care and to stay independent. These factors create unique needs for their finance teams, too. In fact, in smaller markets, finance teams are often asked to do much more but with less, all while planning, balancing and adjusting for the financial needs of their organization.

The program is specifically designed to make the same tools used by the largest health systems accessible to independent community, critical access, and specialty hospitals, helping to address the need for access mentioned by many of the hospitals mentioned above.

This offering delivers a single and integrated cloud-based, software-as-a-service platform that includes modules for decision support, operational budgeting, and management reporting.

The Community Program is intended to provide hospitals with a predictable, affordable total cost of ownership, while delivering real value for even the most resource-constrained finance teams. The program was designed to help our community and critical access partners begin to adopt these three needs in the market:

  1. Identify Cost Reductions
  2. Become More Agile
  3. Understand Clinical Performance

The Need to Identify Cost Reductions

Finance leaders often lack enough tools to identify cost-improvement opportunities. In fact, 54% say they have insufficient data, benchmarking, and reporting tools to completely support efforts to lower costs without compromising the quality of care.

The Need to Become More Agile

Finance leaders may lack confidence in their ability to adjust quickly and easily to changing business circumstances. Only 14% believe their current financial planning processes and tools make them “very prepared” to manage the financial impact of evolving payment and delivery models

The Need to Understand Clinical Performance

Finance leaders may be ill-prepared to use clinical measures to impact financial performance. Only 14% said that their clinicians have access to actionable information that helps them address unwarranted clinical variation and other cost-related quality concerns.

To learn more about the Community Program and how your peers are leveraging the single, integrated cloud-based SaaS platform, click here.