Magazine October 2018

Chris Barber – Hospital CEOs


Chris Barber

Name: Chris Barber

Hospital: St. Bernards Healthcare

Education: Master’s degree in Hospital Administration and Master’s degree in Business Administration

What are some of the most significant financial challenges facing hospitals today?
Based upon a recent national survey conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives, the most pressing issues confronting hospitals today are aligned with financial challenges. The list begins with declining reimbursement rates, rising pharmaceutical costs and increasing costs for personnel shortages including physicians and staff. It goes on to include inadequate funding for capital improvements in facilities and technological advances. Also noted is opportunities to improve the revenue cycle process, and transition from fee for service to a value-based reimbursement model. Governmental mandates, challenges in providing appropriate access to care in various markets and to distinct populations and the reorganization of markets including mergers, acquisitions and partnerships have added additional complexities. At a breaking point, in areas and states that have elected not to move forward in providing coverage expansion, significant hospital closures have occurred in response to the additional burden of increased levels in uncompensated care. The list goes on, but these concerns mentioned certainly rise to the top. It is safe to say that significant financial challenges will remain at the forefront for most hospitals in the future.

How do governmental mandates impact Arkansas hospitals?
Health care is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. Therefore, health care organizations spend tremendous amounts of time, energy and resources to ensure compliance with the various governmental agencies and mandates. Changes and uncertainty in the regulatory and/or legislative approach can create challenges in strategic and long-term planning.

How are you embracing risk and innovation?
There is a current movement in the industry in which providers assume more clinical and financial risk for the delivery of care. Involved with similar models over the past eight years, St. Bernards had the first PACE program for the frail elderly in the State of Arkansas and has served as a leading system in the nation for rural programs. We continue to embrace strategies to improve the overall health of populations through payment reform, personalized medicine, health coaches, evidence-based best practices for certain diagnosis, telehealth and the utilization of data and information. Once again, these efforts to strengthen the systems of care are often led and championed by physicians in the region. It truly is an exciting time to be a health care leader in Arkansas inembracing and actually shaping the future of health care for the individuals we serve.

Who can you collaborate with beyond the traditional?
We are certainly open to strategies and relationships that assist in advancing improvement in the overall health of the communities we serve. Some of these relationships exist with traditional health providers, payers, employers and various innovative business sectors that have a common purpose or goal. As the expectations of consumers are changing, the health care industry needs to learn from other consumer-centric businesses and adopt leading practices that will continue to enhance the health of our communities.

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