The present and future of healthcare in America is a tumultuous one. While much of the focus has been placed on individuals, employers, and insurers, providers face major challenges adapting to shifting regulations, evolving threats, and increasing demands from across the continuum.

Part 1: External Forces You Need to Handle in the Healthcare Space

With providers facing demands for transparency from payors and patients, constant barrages from hackers attempting to steal data, and demands for regulation from politicians, it’s a challenge to stay ahead of the game as a financial professional.

This is why we present to you this two-part blog on how your role as a finance leader may change in coming years, and what you can do to evolve. Part one, which you can view below, looks to share three external forces you will need to address, and part two will explore three strategies to address them.

Regardless of size, affiliation, motive, or design, providers across the United States face similar challenges. From quality rankings to transparency challenges to the ever-present risk of a cyberattack, providers need to continually be on the lookout to mitigate external threats, capitalize on opportunities, and improve patient care.

Data Security Challenges Pose a Constant Threat

In 2016 cyberbreaches compromised more than 12 million health records, according to the 2016 Year-End Healthcare Cyber-Breach Report by TrapX Security.

Crime is the intersection of means, motive, and opportunity. With advancements in tools used to breach organizations or hold data hostage including the proliferation of ‘rental ransomware’ or other pay-to-play breach tools, hackers certainly have the means. With more and more patient data being used and shared, they have the motive. Hospitals and other providers need to take steps so that these unscrupulous individuals or groups do not get the opportunity.

Demands for Transparency

As premiums skyrocketed over the past two decades, high-deductible health plans took hold as a way to provide some relief for consumers each month. The rise of the high deductible health plane (HDHP) was a tradeoff for these consumers—pay less each month for your premium while paying a higher deductible for services, ranging from a $1,350 minimum and $6,650 for individuals and $2,700 to $13,300 for families in 2018, per the Healthcare Trends Institute.

Prevalent for both employer-sponsored plans and through Federal and State Marketplaces, HDHPs have also had another effect: consumerism. As people began to see how much certain services actually cost, consumers (and some legislators) began to seek out transparent pricing from providers.

For example, in our home state of Florida, state legislators passed a law designed to increase transparency and quality for patients which established a website that allows patients to view high and low costs for procedures and surgeries.

For providers, transparency pays, and consumers will be looking for institutions that can provide answers to the questions they have—when they ask for them.

Staffing and Labor Needs

Healthcare organizations face many different talent shortages. By 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortage of 45,000 primary care doctors and 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists, due in part to an aging population and an increasing number of individuals covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, it’s not just the medical staff that’s in high demand—it’s likely the accounting and finance departments face their own war for talent, leaving the current staff needing to do more with less.

Embracing Change and Improving Healthcare: How to Lead Finance in 2018 and Beyond

While these are just three of many issues faced by financial professionals at healthcare providers, these are ones that can be addressed starting in the finance. Stay tuned for part two of our series, exploring three ways to handle these challenges with modern technology designed for growing healthcare organizations.

Don’t want to wait? Learn more about how companies like Personal Healthcare, CareATC, and University Clinical Health took control of their finances for growth with the help of Sage Intacct, a leader in best-in-class cloud financial manament for healthcare organizations.

Learn More: Modern Financial Management for Healthcare Organizations

If you are looking to take the next steps in improving financial operations at your healthcare organization, we invite you to learn more by downloading the Guide to Modern Financial Management and Cloud Accounting for Healthcare Organizations, an in-depth guide on modernizing processes and technology with the cloud. You can get a preview of the guide below, and download the entire guide here.