Higher Thinking

Quick, timely blog posts. Thought-provoking trends. How-to guides and in-depth case studies. Use this page to explore all of our best thinking on US healthcare delivery, plus the occasional news from our firm. Find something that inspires or troubles you? Contact us any time – we’d love to be your thought partner in delivering more accessible, sustainable, and equitable healthcare. >>

Ascendient consultant Kim Meymandi with her husband, Spencer

Meet the Team: Kim Meymandi

How an illness led this senior consultant into a healthcare career – with a special focus on improving access for underserved communities.
3 volunteers offering food & medicine illustrate the idea of hospital community benefit guidelines

Hospital Community Benefit Rules: Changes Ahead

From state capitals to Washington DC, hospitals face mounting pressure to justify their tax exemption. Here are 3 things to do right now.
A robot reading a magazine is a whimsical depiction of the role of AI in CON applications. Photo by Andrea Desantis via Unsplash.

Deus Ex Machina: AI for CON Applications?

AI tools may be a helpful resource when creating CON applications, but they can't yet replace personal experience or human smarts.
A look down the runway at a small airport illustrates the idea that the federal government subsidizes airline monopolies while insisting on competition in healthcare

Are Airports More “Essential” Than Hospitals?

The DOJ sues hospitals to protect competition in healthcare while the DOT pays millions to protect airline monopolies ... but why?
An abstract watercolor painting of the sun is the symbol of Ascendient's Healthcare Horizons series, including this installment on health equity strategy

Hospital M&A: 3 Reasons to Know Your HHI

As regulators crack down on mergers, healthcare leaders need to defend their plans with a mix of numbers + narrative.
abstract lighthouse watercolor

Look-Alike Health Centers: the Ascendient Guide

Learn why this obscure provider type can offer financial and strategic benefits while improving care for underserved communities.
A blurred image of an ambulance suggests the theme of a Rural Emergency Hospital

Rural Emergency Hospital Questions: Just the FAQs

We have answers to the 9 biggest questions we've been hearing about Medicare's new Rural Emergency Hospital model.
A homeless person on a park bench illustrates the issue of health-related social needs

Health-Related Social Needs: Get Ready for CMS Mandates

New rules are coming soon for screening patients with health-related social needs. Here's what that means for your mission & margins.
An abstract watercolor painting of the sun is the symbol of Ascendient's Healthcare Horizons series, including this installment on health equity strategy

Health Equity Strategy: 6 Things to Know About New CMS Rules

The Hospital IQR Program now includes rules promoting health equity. Here are 6 smart steps for getting compliant.
A red "priority" stamp illustrates CMS priorities found in the 2023 IPPS

What the 2023 IPPS Tells Us About CMS Priorities

Yes, the 2023 IPPS boosts inpatient reimbursement by several billion dollars, but 3 trends around hospital data could be even bigger news.

Community Health Assessments: Taking a Collective Approach

How a county-wide CHA process helped save money, broaden public participation, and build alignment among providers.
A nighttime view into a dimly lit pharmacy

Debating the Role of Pharmacy in Healthcare Transformation

Thanks to their ubiquity and familiarity, pharmacies can play an important role in healthcare transformation – if policymakers allow them to.
3 North Carolina lawmakers are shown at work during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion

NC Legislature Hears from Dawn Carter on Certificate of Need Reform

A Joint Committee of the NC General Assembly recently heard from Ascendient's Dawn Carter on the subject of Certificate of Need reform.
Stylized skyscrapers form a bar chart, illustrating the concept of public health strategic planning

Public Health Strategic Planning: Don’t Skimp on the SWOT

A good SWOT analysis is foundational to public health strategic planning. Here's a step-by-step guide for doing it right.
A digital thermometer

The Public Health CHA: Time for a Temperature Reading

As some public health departments come under fire by Covid-weary residents, the CHA process could be a powerful tool for bridge-building.
A photo of clouds swirling over the US Capitol dome is meant to illustrate that Thom Tillis and Richard Burr need to join the Senate Rural Health Caucus

The Senate Rural Health Caucus Needs NC Voices

Rural hospitals are closing at a record pace, yet NC's most powerful lawmakers don't bother to join the bipartisan Senate Rural Health Caucus.
An IV bag is isolated on a blue background. Because we can't determine the location, the photo illustrates the versatility of Hospital at Home programs.

Hospital at Home: Answering the $30,000 Question

Covid-19 gave a big boost to Hospital at Home efforts. With higher satisfaction, lower costs, and better outcomes, the trend looks unstoppable.
A colorful tangle of measuring tapes illustrates that hospital community benefit can be difficult to measure

Hospital Community Benefit: How Do You Measure and Why Should You Care?

Hospital community benefit is tough to measure, but it's worth the effort – both for more equitable healthcare and better hospital finances.
A stack of thick, hardback law books illustrates that CON laws in NC are changing

Important Changes to CON Laws in NC: What You Need to Know

For the first time in a generation, NC has modified its CON laws. Here's what hospital leaders need to know about the changes.
A stethoscope on a pile of money illustrates that rules around healthcare price transparency are meant to keep costs down

What’s the Price of Healthcare Price Transparency?

Regulating healthcare price transparency is a bad idea for 4 reasons. Read our op-ed originally published in the Charlotte Observer.