Managing Health System Access Points in the Wake of COVID-19
- August 27, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique circumstances for health systems and healthcare providers that will permanently impact patient care delivery. Across the U.S., hospitals and medical practices stopped elective procedures and limited their care to essential services as cases grew in April 2020. Ambulatory clinics, emergency department (ED), and surgical services are the gateway to the acute care setting, and as volumes dropped, revenue dropped. The healthcare industry is reporting losses up to $50 billion per month due to the loss of elective surgeries and procedures. Each access point provides a steady stream of patients to the health system, and hospitals must address new challenges for them to remain financially viable.
During the initial recovery efforts, operational leaders focused on staff remobilization, safety, and refining care delivery models. Many provider organizations focused on obtaining and utilizing federal relief funds instead of the path to volume recovery. While federal relief funds will offset some of the revenue shortfalls, it is not likely to offset the full impact of COVID-19, placing most organizations in the holding pattern of managing liquidity.
The path back to 100% of pre-COVID-19 volumes is not guaranteed, and every health system needs to plan for a variety of scenarios that will impact them financially, operationally, and strategically. Leadership should consider four questions to help manage financial viability and develop a strategy to rejuvenate patient access points.
Four Questions to Evaluate Readiness
- Does your health system have a plan of action if/when volumes do not come back to 100%?
- How should your organization prepare for best- and worst-case scenarios operationally, strategically, and financially?
- What are the critical services and strategies that must survive even in your worst-case scenario?
- What other options are necessary to consider, such as partnerships, mergers, acquisitions, or alternative funding sources?
After carefully considering answers to these questions, health system leadership should be ready to evaluate each access point and create a strategic plan of action.
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