So much has changed in healthcare and so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up. The healthcare industry is not used to rapid change, but to survive a new thinking must emerge. We need to become more nibble, as potential future spikes and/or waves of COVID 19 may create a roller-coaster effect on the bottom line. Until there is a vaccine, or we have herd immunity, the uncertainty will remain, but one thing is for sure, we must learn from Chapter 1 of Pandemic 101, this could happen again and again. We need to emerge from this experience with a renewed sense of flexibility.
So, what is your new world like right now?
Restatement of your budget is essential. I would have to guess that you are restating your revenue line based on incremental increase in volume, keeping in mind the possibility of spikes and that there could be a new wave coming in the fall. You need to be reviewing and revising your compensation arrangements with physicians, advanced practice providers, senior management, and staff. You need to engage all stakeholders.
You are securing contracts and arrangements with suppliers making sure your supply chain is stable to assure you do not run out of PPE or essential supplies and pharmaceuticals. You are probably strengthening your environmental services to respond to the increased demand in environmental cleaning/sterilizing protocols. You are probably developing a new visitor policy along with possibilities for patient and visitor testing prior to scheduled procedures and appointments.
You are probably reassessing your real estate position. Do you need all the real estate you have, or can you divest of the real estate or utilize your real estate in a different way? Your team is working on a redesign of the healthcare environment, waiting rooms, clinical setting, and business office space. Will non-essential workers continue to work from home? Can those non-essential workspace (business offices) be turned into waiting room areas as you institute social distancing and other essential health precautions and measures?
Employee health – how are you making sure your staff is safe, what is your policy and procedure for symptom screening, testing, contact tracing, and isolation requirements? Are all your employees wearing masks? Will everyone that enters the hospital or clinical space be made to wear masks?
Are you taking a hard look at your capital investments and delaying some and bring others to the forefront? Is this the time to invest further in technology? There is no doubt that you need to be thinking about investing in the improvement of digital technology such as Telehealth, telecommunications, charge capture technology, sophisticated scheduling programs and call center advanced technology, or you will be behind the curve. Should a second wave come, which you can almost count on, digital technology will need to operate at the highest levels.
Primary care and a focus on population health will be more important than ever. The major focus needs to be on reduction of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary problems. Community programs will need to be strengthened to focus on the reduction of these risk factors. Enhancement of community partnerships with other health systems, schools, home care, foster care, and behavioral health services, will be more important than ever to assure that you are ready should a second wave of COVID-19 materialize. Investment in marketing, patient engagement strategies, social media campaigns that focus on telehealth, “new” safety protocols and personalized stories about your healthcare heroes will be essential.
Learn to be more like nimble, bend but do not break. Try to get your team ready for rapid changes as we swim through waves of uncertain times. If you need assistance in developing new growth ideas, repositioning, or strategic insight we are ready to assist you.
Envision Better Health, LLC