Strategy Execution / Project Leadership

COVID-19 is devastating the healthcare industry. How are you ensuring your business survives?

As COVID-19 continues to spread and affect millions of Americans’ health and businesses, several industries, including Healthcare, are facing major disruption. At the onset of the pandemic, front line healthcare workers and administrators worked tirelessly to rapidly augment their environments in response to the surge of infected patients. Within weeks, they opened multiple testing centers, increased bed capacity, created isolation units to control spread, deployed advanced personal protective equipment and safety precautions, rehauled scheduling to stagger patient visits, launched alternative telemedicine appointments, and eliminated elective procedures.

Efforts taken to address recent healthcare demands have not only amplified existing challenges such as tight margins, patient dissatisfaction, new technology adoption, and strong regulatory compliance, but have also created significant, new challenges. Healthcare staff and leadership are scrambling to formulate a plan of action while working around the clock to provide adequate patient care during these stressful and demanding times. With patient volumes below baseline, total anticipated losses for hospitals and healthcare systems will be at least $323.1B in 2020 due to COVID. While the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program, and Health Care Enhancement Act allocated $175B for grants to providers, further analysis indicates that the investment may be insufficient for businesses that are most vulnerable and ill-equipped during the pandemic .

There is a lot to consider for hospitals and healthcare systems navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic. Answer these six questions to understand the impacts and ensure your business survives:

  1. Do you have a plan to weather COVID-19’s long-term financial effects?
    Despite relief from programs like the CARES act, hospitals and healthcare systems are experiencing significant financial impact resulting from the pandemic. Due to the overall reduction in preventative and elective procedures, 2020 healthcare profits were significantly below target. Whether your organization is already feeling the financial strain of COVID-19 or you are bracing for future obstacles, it is critical to decrease the amount of time to payment by completing in-depth Accounts Receivables/Payer reviews and thinking though near term recommendations.
  2. Are your strategic projects on pause due to the uncertainty of the pandemic?
    Many organizations have paused strategic projects and programs during the pandemic due to reduced funding, but they need to be ready to re-initiate them when able. Healthcare can stay focused on the future by developing 3-, 6-, and 12 -month reengagement strategies to reassess and reprioritize initiatives as their needs evolve.
  3. Is your business struggling to compete due to operational inefficiencies?
    Shortages of staff, beds, and supplies reduce capacity to provide patient care. Across the country, healthcare systems, physician practices, and other points of care are experiencing increased pressure to merge and consolidate to meet demand. Organizations should continue to seek opportunities for in-market collaborations to partner and share best practices.
  4. Are you best equipped to reach patients?
    As patients cancel routine visits due to quarantine or travel restrictions, providers are experiencing challenges in making patient connections and providing care. Health providers should explore opportunities to adopt telehealth and other digital technologies to provide in-home patient services.
  5. How are you staying agile in uncertainty?
    The future is entirely uncertain, and your ability to adapt to change is crucial to business sustainability. Providers, suppliers, and payers have limited time to react to market changes and to government updated policies and guidelines. Organizations need to be nimble to encourage faster adoption of process changes. This agility will enable them to keep pace with changing requirements, policies, and supply and demand, while maintaining operational flexibility.
  6. Are you prepared for potential supply chain disruptions?
    The various equipment needed to ensure healthcare worker safety and save patients’ lives are in high demand. Supply for equipment is scarce due to COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions, resulting in greater uncertainty and risk to the patient care. Organizations should increase transparency of their inventory via monitoring and automatic alerts of potential disruptions.

The pandemic has provided unique and substantial challenges for the healthcare industry, accompanied by change and uncertainty. At Thought Logic, we understand that organizations are overwhelmed with immediate patient care challenges while struggling to overcome operational restrictions. With the right strategy, plan, and team, your healthcare business operations can be scaled rapidly for adoption and success, and we can help.

For more information about this article or to learn more about how Thought Logic’s management consultants are helping healthcare clients through the uncertainty of COVID, contact Maura Robinson at maurar@thought-logic.com and Radhika Bhatt-Bula at radhikab@thought-logic.com.

1 American Hospital Association. (2020, June 30). Catastrophic Financial Impact of COVID-19 Expected to Top $323 Billion in 2020 [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/press-releases/2020-06-30-new-aha-report-losses-deepen-hospitals-health-systems

2 Karyn Schwartz, Eric Longo, Matthew Rae, Tricia Neuman. “What We Know About Provider Consolidation.” KFF (issue brief), September 02, 2020. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/what-we-know-about-provider-consolidation/