Biggest Challenges 2018

Biggest Healthcare Challenges of 2018

Each day, healthcare providers from every department, facility type, and region tell my KLAS colleagues and me about their struggles. I got into the habit last year of asking at the end of each research call, “What has been your biggest challenge this year?”

Hundreds of stories later, I have compiled in my mind a pretty detailed and dreary picture of a provider leader’s daily life. Maybe the following scenario will sound familiar to you.

A Day in the Life

A director of pharmacy returns to her desk after spending the day hashing out plans about how to best meet the USP 797 and 800 regulations. She sets down her coffee mug and rubs her temples. How on earth am I going to stay current with all of these regulatory changes?

After a long drink of coffee, the director of pharmacy ventures into her email account and searches for one she’s been expecting: the one that will outline her budget for the coming year.

Several emails fly by, including one about a recent shortage of sodium chloride. There’s also one about a local payer’s recent decision to stop covering certain vaccinations, despite a general outcry from the physicians.

After finding the email outlining her budget, the director of pharmacy scrolls straight to her FTE line. She slams her hand on the desk. They can acquire two new hospitals but can’t manage to give me two more pharmacy techs?

The words of her predecessor come back in a bitter echo: “Do more with less: The future of healthcare.”

How true that is. She takes another gulp of coffee and returns to the budget. The only item missing is the one she wishes they could have kept: the robust third-party tool the organization decided to drop in favor of their enterprise vendor’s tool. It will be cheaper and integrated.

The director of pharmacy stares into her now-empty mug. With so many expectations and so little money to fund them, doing more with less is her only option. She heaves a sigh and stands up to get a refill. At least the coffee is free.

Which Problems Are Top of Mind?

The director of pharmacy from above is hypothetical, but the problems she faces are all too real and extremely common. Regulations, acquisitions, IT solutions, shortages, hospital politics, burnout—and overarching them all, the question, “How are we going to pay for all this?” 

Financial problems were the ones most frequently mentioned by my provider friends in 2018. How do I know? Because I’m a nerd and kept track. The chart below shows the top eight answers to my question about healthcare providers’ biggest challenges.

Paul Chart

Providers reading this chart probably aren’t surprised. They probably are wondering how they’ll be able to keep patient care at the same quality they have in the past.

KLAS is eager to help as much as we can. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be publishing blog posts about several of the most common problems faced by healthcare providers, including the top concern of finances. Each post will discuss specific questions from provider friends, include links to KLAS research on the topic, and list vendors who are stepping in to help.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts. And find yourself a bigger coffee mug.