This year’s conference in Orlando was interesting one. There were a few things that caught my eye during the course of the three very long days!
1. There were a record number of attendees. Close to 31,000 in attendance was the number that was announced. However, the tradeshow floor (where I spent most of my time) didn’t seem to be as crowded as in years past. Maybe it is because the floor is so huge that the crowds were distributed around. Or maybe because the sessions and workshops were so good that attendees struggled to find to time to get out and wander the floor.
On the other hand, we were in Orlando so it’s also very possible that more families came along and some time got spent at Disney World! If that was the case, then next year probably won’t be much better, as we’ll all be in Vegas where there are even more distractions…
Regardless of the reasons for attendees being wherever they were, this year’s HIMSS reinforced to me what I have always thought about the conference: It is more of a tradeshow than a conference and most software vendors and service groups have more partner meetings and follow-ups with existing customers than finding new ones who wander up to the booths.
2. Hot new conversation topic: Accountable care organizations (ACO), not “meaningful use.” Of course, meaningful use was a constant topic of conversation, but it was a more mature conversation. Hospitals know what their strategy is and they are working to implement it. Those implementation conversations were everywhere, but not really hitting anything new.
By the way – there is unanimous agreement that workforce management, especially those systems that focus on labor productivity and staffing, do not fall under the meaningful use criteria. There is no unique patient data stored electronically in core WFM systems.
The topic that was much more speculative and interesting to me was ACO’s. It seems right now hospitals are struggling to figure out how to get their hands around the structure with providers. But it seems like only a matter of time before the attention turns to nursing staff. This shouldn’t be a surprise since, depending on who you ask, labor costs can absorb 40% to 60% of a hospital’s gross revenues. And unlike meaningful use, WFM should be a key strategic component of ACO’s, when it comes to staff and labor productivity for costing.
When will that happen? Good question. It’s on the horizon, but no one seems quite ready to say they have the provider part down enough to tackle the nursing workforce. It is going to be very interesting to see how this evolves over the course of the 12 months.
3. Consolidation in the WFM space. Kronos is acquiring API Healthcare, which are the two largest and best time & attendance vendors in the healthcare space, per KLAS. I didn’t get a chance to talk with any existing API customers to see what they think, but there has got to be some nervousness around what will happen. It’s possible that the API customers can look to the Stromberg acquisition from a couple of years ago to see what Kronos will do with them.
My gut guess right now: Not a lot will happen over the next year, but over time, look for Kronos to take some of the complimentary modules that API has related to finance and acuity and begin working them into WFC. That seems to be consistent with the statement that Kronos made at HIMSS11 about the acquisition.
It will certainly be interesting to see that develop!
The Healthcare Productivity Balancing Act
At the Axsium booth, we announced our latest whitepaper in the healthcare space, which you have heard me talk about in this space. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, what you can expect is a foundational discussion on what productivity in healthcare really is, why it is so challenging for hospitals, and what you can do about it. You can download it from here.
Additionally, I will be giving a webinar presentation on this subject at the end of March. It is free to attend and you can signup for it here.
I’d love to hear any feedback that you have about this whitepaper! Understanding of this core concept is going to be very important when ACO’s begin to incorporate the nursing labor force, so the sooner you can get your strategies mapped out, the better position you will be in to implement the next generation of ACO cost controls.
Of course, at Axsium, we are very much focused on the importance of balancing labor productivity with our healthcare services offerings. If you’d like to have us talk about that with you or if you would like me to just come out and go through these strategies with you and help you lay out a roadmap, feel free to contact me directly.