By Angie Franks
Chief Executive Officer, Central Logic
 
If the past few months have taught me one thing, it’s that healthcare organizations are amazingly resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic severely challenged health system operations and finances, which will undoubtedly lead to increased consolidation and other significant changes in the healthcare landscape. However, I firmly believe that most organizations will emerge from this crisis stronger and better prepared for the future. In particular, I see an enhanced ability to:

  • Respond quickly and efficiently to the next patient surge crisis, whether it’s caused by a pandemic or another type of calamity
  • Rebound from the current situation by successfully reengaging with patients whose care was postponed by the pandemic, and reassuring them that hospitals are safe places to get the care they need
  • Reshape the future, learning from their COVID-19 experiences and innovating to improve care delivery and achieve sustainable growth in patient volumes and revenue

As I’ll discuss in more detail below, each of these capabilities requires a clear view of patient movement within and outside of the health system, as well as available beds, clinicians, and other resources. This visibility must be coupled with a unified approach to orchestrating access to care — in other words, “operating as one.”
 
How do you make this happen in your health system? Let’s take a closer look.
 
Better equipped for future crises
 
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that the ability of health systems to deliver a high level of care to every patient is only as good as their ability to visualize and utilize a full range of resources across their system. The pandemic clearly demonstrated the importance of:

  • Using a centralized, system-wide point of contact to swiftly triage patients and orchestrate their care
  • Intelligently and rapidly determining the most appropriate care setting and deployment of resources
  • Tracking, in real time, patient movement and locations, as well as available clinicians, beds, ventilators, and other vital resources
  • Balancing patient loads across multiple hospitals to avoid overwhelming some facilities while others have underutilized staff and resources

Besides enabling a stronger crisis response and load balancing, these capabilities will help avert a future shutdown of service lines that are critical to your community and to your bottom line.
 
Improved revenue health
 
Revenues certainly have taken a big hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now many health systems remain focused on bringing back patients who’ve been too frightened to schedule routine or elective procedures.
 
Obviously, this requires a well-designed strategy for the safe delivery of care, along with initiatives to communicate new protocols and policies. But returning to a healthy revenue stream demands that you take action on other fronts, such as leveraging technology to ensure that patients are in the optimal care setting for the desired outcome, and to make care delivery more scalable, comfortable, and appropriate for patients.
 
At some point, consumers will return in greater numbers — and the challenge becomes managing a sudden spike in demand for certain services (think behavioral health, elective procedures, and delayed treatments for acute health conditions). If you can’t accommodate this new type of surge, you risk losing patients to other health systems with greater capacity and a “welcome mat” outside their front door.
 
While healthcare may never return to the way it was before the pandemic, patient acquisition and retention should remain top priorities to ensure both optimal clinical and financial outcomes. In-depth, real-time analytics of patient transfers and available resources can empower you to make certain your facilities are able to swiftly meet the shifting demand for services.
 
A more sustainable future
 
There’s no doubt in my mind that the future looks bright for the majority of our nation’s health systems. They will not only survive this dark time, but will grow stronger from their experiences, implementing smart, innovative changes to increase patient volumes and revenues, improve case mix indices (CMIs), and expedite the delivery of care.
 
In this new era, the most successful organizations will be able to fully visualize and leverage a comprehensive set of healthcare delivery channels to attract and retain patients. They’ll possess the ability to respond robustly to an unexpected surge of patients, without disrupting their other service lines. And they’ll adopt cultural changes to support a workforce that has undergone transformational change, including staff reductions and employees working remotely.
 
Does your health system have a clearer line of sight to patient movement and organizational resources? Is “operating as one” one of your strategic objectives? I invite you to consider a partnership with Central Logic, where we’re ready to apply our industry-leading expertise and technology to your most pressing current and future challenges, enabling you to orchestrate, navigate and elevate your care delivery and operational excellence.

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