From the Chair

Chair_AdamsGregory Adams, FHFMA

December is a time for holiday celebrations, family and friends, and good cheer. It's also time to reflect on the year's best, worst, and most notable events.

This year, the "top 10" lists started to appear in October, with Time magazine's published lists of the top 10 American protest movements, the top 10 Nobel Prize controversies, and the top 10 failed predictions about the end of the world, among others. To some extent, health care mirrors the world at large: We've had our share of protests, controversies, and predictions of the end of the world as we know it. But good news is usually in short supply. So in the spirit of the season, here are five of the top good-news stories in healthcare finance in 2011.

Health care is a bright spot for employment. The healthcare sector is responsible for nearly one in four new jobs in the overall economy in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS preliminary data show hospital job growth is nearly four times higher than it was in 2010, creating 66,800 new jobs through the end of the third quarter.

Hospital quality of care is improving. The Joint Commission's 2011 Annual Report on Quality and Safety found that hospitals have improved significantly in terms of care processes related to accountability. That means we're doing a better job of consistently providing evidence-based care, such as giving aspirin at arrival for heart attack patients and administering antibiotics to patients one hour before surgery.

Prospects for accountable care may be improving. Earlier this year, there was great anticipation about the rules for accountable care organizations, to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). But when CMS issued the proposed rule, excitement fizzled. More than 1,200 healthcare stakeholders, including HFMA, wrote to CMS with suggestions. And the final rule, which addressed some of these concerns, is a step in the right direction.

You are building the capabilities needed for a value-based future. This year, HFMA published a report of the initial findings from our Value Project, which follows promising paths that innovative healthcare organizations are pioneering on their value journeys. Be inspired by the newest report from the project, Building Value-Driving Capabilities: People and Culture (www.hfma.org/valueproject).

Your support and participation helped HFMA achieve record-high membership levels this year. Our team now numbers more than 37,000 members and counting. Thanks to your support and involvement, HFMA is well positioned to start the new year strong and help you fulfill your organization's mission of improving health.

As we count down the days until the end of the year, be encouraged. Along with protests, controversies, and dire predictions, the past year brought some good news for health care. Let's continue to move toward a value-based healthcare system for the benefit of the patients and communities we serve. Here's hoping that you and your family have a joyous holiday season, and a happy and healthy new year.
 

Publication Date: Thursday, December 01, 2011

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