Survey: Economy is adversely affecting IT budgets, personnel
Fifty percent of healthcare organizations surveyed have had to cut back on IT investments due to the sour economic climate and reduced access to credit markets for financing, according to a survey by healthcare management consulting firm Beacon Partners.

The Weymouth, Mass.-based firm analyzed more than 200 responses from U.S. healthcare executives to see how the economy has affected U.S. hospitals’ decision-making and operation.

To make their budgets work, 80 percent of respondents have reduced capital expenditures and more than 40 percent have cut costs by reducing staff, the report found. “As a result, employee turnover has increased by almost 38 percent due to the many negative moves the participating healthcare organizations have had to make as a result of economic pressures,” the authors wrote.

“With finance matters being at the top of their concerns, not surprisingly, the majority stated that uncompensated care was their single biggest ongoing problem,” noted the report. “This is something that healthcare reform will attempt to address head-on and, if successful, could have a major impact on a hospital’s ability to execute upon its strategic plans by freeing up available capital.”

The study found that more than 80 percent of the healthcare organizations surveyed have completed strategic plans within the previous 18 months.

The report also found:
  • Approximately 48 percent of respondents agreed that they will not see immediate benefits from the financial adjustments they've made due to the economy, but should start to within one to three years. Thirty-eight percent believe they will start to reap the benefits of their actions within the next 12 months.
  • Close to 50 percent of the healthcare organizations are connected to private practice physicians, most being connected via portals. Two-thirds of respondents believe this connectivity with the greater healthcare community gives them a competitive edge.

The study found that three out of four healthcare organizations surveyed are actively recruiting new doctors, and 40 percent claimed this was the single most significant organizational improvement they are undertaking to improve financial performance.

In addition, 51 percent of respondents felt that the issue of hospital/physician alignment strategies is the single most important initiative to improve their organization's long-term success, the study concluded.