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HFMA’s Rick Gundling looks at hospitals, headwinds and hopes for a rebound in 2024 | Healthy Bottom Line podcast


In a wide-ranging discussion, Gundling talks about hospitals and their efforts to recover, and offers projections on mergers, outsourcing, AI, new construction and other trends to watch.

Chief Healthcare Executive® is bringing the “Healthy Bottom Line” podcast back.

Image credit: HFMA

Rick Gundling of the Healthcare Financial Management Association shared his projections for the hospital industry in 2024 for the Healthy Bottom Line podcast.

With the “Healthy Bottom Line” podcast, we look at the financial aspects of hospitals and the healthcare industry, and what leaders need to know. In this episode, we talked with Rick Gundling of the Healthcare Financial Management Association about the year ahead.

Gundling, senior vice president of the association, shares his outlook on 2024, and the climate for hospitals and health systems after they endured another difficult year in 2023.

“It’s been kind of a bumpy recovery,” Gundling says.

“Overall, it is improving, but not for everybody,” he continues. “I think the stronger health systems have gotten stronger. I think the weaker health systems have gotten weaker.”

In the conversation, Gundling says he expects hospitals and health systems to face continued more challenges. But he says that he sees some optimism among HFMA’s members.

He says health systems and hospitals are focusing more on wellness as a key aspect in their strategy to retain good workers.

“If they get burned out, they just leave the profession, and then we're struggling some more. So I think, how to attract and retain talent has become much more of a focus for these health systems than before,” Gundling says.

He also talks about the fact that healthcare is going to be a key topic in a 2024 election year, and hospitals and health systems need to be ready for those conversations. Healthcare leaders need to be talking about efforts to help their communities and tackling the social determinants of health to reduce gaps for underserved groups.

“I do think health systems should probably be ready to talk to the media, and talk to their communities about how they are caring for the community,” Gundling says.

And he expects to see the continued digital transformation of the healthcare industry, including the growing use of artificial intelligence. He expects hospitals to expand their use of AI to handle some administrative burdens, including simplifying the process of securing prior authorization from insurers.

Gundling talks about the economic headwinds facing hospitals, the prospect of more mergers and acquisitions in the industry, the likelihood of more hospital construction, the potential for more outsourcing and offshoring, and the focus on affordability and health equity. He also discusses how health leaders can put themselves in the best position to succeed in the coming year.

The Healthy Bottom Line podcast joins Chief Healthcare Executive’s “Data Book,” podcast, which looks at healthcare technology and the transformation of healthcare (new episodes of Data Book are coming soon). You can check out both wherever you get your podcasts.

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