HBD-Blog 4

Healthcare Report Card: Leaders assess the past decade of healthcare improvements

August 26, 2021
August 26, 2021

This blog post is part of our 2021 series on Healthcare’s Big Disruption

In April 2021, HealthStream surveyed more than 900 healthcare leaders to understand their thoughts about the past, present and future of caregiving and our industry. We focused on the wide-ranging effort to improve healthcare in recent decades and asked executives about successes, failures, challenges, and their predictions for the future of healthcare.

Where do healthcare leaders think past efforts to improve healthcare readiness failed them the most?

More than half of respondents indicated “fair” or “poor” levels of preparation. These downbeat ratings broadly suggest that healthcare was not in a position of strength going into the challenges it is now widely facing.  

To get a more detailed understanding of this response, HealthStream also asked leaders to rate various aspects of healthcare during the past 10 years. A telling detail is that nothing on the list received close to a high rating (usually considered to be a rating of 8-10)—all ratings were 6.56 or lower. Key areas of concern (scoring 4-6) include:

  • Being ready to handle care for a growing number of seniors  
  • Thinking “big enough” in planning for traumatic events 
  • Adequately supporting our nation’s public health system 
  • Recognizing signs that we were due for an infectious disease outbreak 
  • Anticipating the impact climate change has had on our industry 
  • Reducing staff turnover 
  • Recognizing burnout and mental health issues of providers 

Who in healthcare will be affected most by these issues? 

Of the healthcare initiatives rated above, many apply directly to the healthcare workforce. Every chief human resource officer (CHRO) and their organizations will be seriously challenged by cascading problems with staff burnout, turnover, and the growing wave of employee retirements. Chief operations officers (COOs) will need to be ready to maintain institutional functions in the face of pandemics, weather events, and other climate disasters. Chief financial officers (CFOs) will feel even more financial pressure as patients are unable to afford treatment and more care has to be written off. Chief learning officers (CLOs) will need to ensure their organizations have educational resources to cross-train employees so that they can respond to changing care needs.

Incremental improvement has not worked well for healthcare 

HealthStream’s survey results suggest that piecemeal healthcare improvements have not enabled the industry to pivot quickly. These regulated disruptions — occurring as new reforms like Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) and Meaningful Use Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive programs — encouraged providers to elevate care quality and meet technology requirements, yet were implemented in stages. Ample time allows for preparation and careful enactment, but avoids a uniting sense of urgency. If U.S. healthcare is going be more successful in the future, it will likely need to embrace and commit to change on a much grander scale.

Disruption can lead to meaningful healthcare change

Get the new eBook: Healthcare’s Big Disruption—From Disruption to Optimism: How healthcare leaders are prioritizing change in light of the pandemic. Robin Rose, Vice President Healthcare Resource Group, authors three articles which detail the results from our 2021 survey and explore implications for healthcare’s imminent evolution. Learn why it took a pandemic to create meaningful change, and where top executives believe the industry goes from here.  

Download the eBook