The coronavirus has truly upended U.S. healthcare. However, some healthcare providers, like Geisinger Health System, quickly activated emergency response plans and canceled all non-urgent procedures and clinic visits. Such healthcare systems also shifted the non-clinical workforce to work from home and saw that virtual communication with patients exploded. Because of the pandemic and the emergency created with an influx of an unexpected number of patients, healthcare systems dealt with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and important medical equipment for the first time.
All healthcare systems have and continue to experience negative financial impacts from the coronavirus that will total to hundreds of millions of dollars. Just as healthcare systems adapt to their new reality, WHO is predicting Covid-19’s second wave in the near future.
Many aspects of how U.S. healthcare has previously worked including fee-for-service business model – were exactly the elements that left the healthcare systems vulnerable to the crippling impact of the pandemic. It is difficult for healthcare systems to get back to business as usual so they need to instead focus on creating a new normal post-pandemic. Creating the new reality means speeding up the positive transformation that is underway towards value based care, and determining which of the activities healthcare systems have stopped and should not resume.
Now is an excellent time to mobilize your team in order to boldly transform the healthcare systems for the better from learned experience in ways that previously were not possible. Healthcare systems need to take this opportunity to fix what has not worked and direct full attention to new and better goals that are centered on delivering better outcomes and creating true value for patients.
How Can Healthcare Systems Create Better Value for Patients?
- Resuming non-urgent work
- Beginning of the New Normal
- Post-crisis Activity and preparing for the second wave of Covid-19
- Operational and economic recovery in a transformed system
Stage 1: Resuming Non-Urgent Work
Telehealth Solutions Like Hucu Can Reduce Operational Cost for Healthcare Organizations
Stage 2: Beginning of the New Normal
Stage 3: Post-Crisis Activity And Preparing For The Second Wave Of Covid-19
Some of the critical changes that healthcare systems have made in response to the coronavirus are likely to stay with them. For example, many allowed a great chunk of their workforce to work from home. The benefits of this shift included increased employee safety and access to an expanded talent pool since work from home employees can live and work from literally anywhere around the world. As long as the staff can effectively work from a remote location after the pandemic, healthcare organizations can anticipate potential cost savings from the elimination of leases, sale of real estate, and conversion of current administrative space to clinical space. Perhaps the healthcare organizations can work out a WFH model in which part of the workforce can WFH completely which a part can work in hybrid WFH and office-based roles.
A large part of the clinical activity will likely continue as telehealth, so healthcare organizations will have to revise a facility plan for the years ahead. Healthcare systems that had success with WFH during the pandemic can determine what proportion of their workforce could WFH permanently. This will result in decreased operational costs too.
Stage 4: Operational And Economic Recovery In A Transformed System
The fee-for-service business model of the U.S, designed with misaligned incentives that stunted care innovation before Covid-19, was destined to fail under pressure and it did. Covid-19 compounded the already present shortcomings of such an approach – particularly its reliance on maximizing elective procedures and volume in general. The crisis necessitated the quick acceleration of virtual care and care at home as hospital systems and patients deliberately reduced inpatient hospital admissions and avoided ER utilization. Virtual care and home care can reduce costs and improve patient engagement. However, these same efforts also lead to significant reductions in revenue under the present fee-for-service reimbursement scheme in healthcare.
Consequential payment reform should create funding systems that make prevention and population health – rather than maximizing reimbursement – the true focus of patient care. This will need a significant financial incentive to create alignment between value (better health outcomes at lower cost) and reimbursement. Such incentives have to be sufficient to encourage investments needed to transform the care delivery model in the healthcare industry.
Such a model will lead to improved quality of healthcare and reduce costs as more patients will get the right care in the appropriate settings. Without such a shift, U.S. healthcare systems will continue to suffer from the effects of prioritizing volume over value and will be financially exposed and vulnerable in the upcoming second wave of the pandemic just like they were in the first one.
What We Conclude
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