Stabilize cash position. Governmental programs created a softer landing for many organizations throughout the COVID pandemic, but as recent policy has shown, reliance on them can’t be a hospital’s strategy. Hospitals should evaluate their current state, understand the actions that caused them to get here and make the necessary changes to stabilize their organization’s finances.
Close process gaps. The pandemic exposed weaknesses for many organizations and now that the storm has passed, it is time to focus efforts on enhancing and improving processes. Immediate key areas for consideration:
- Revenue cycle: A high functioning system can mask issues in the revenue cycle, but many organizations felt the effects of inefficient revenue cycle processes during COVID. Hospitals should engage in process improvement initiatives that maintain streamlined cash flow, and solidify processes around authorization, charge capture, account receivable management, coding, documentation and other key revenue cycle processes.
- Patient engagement strategies: With increased utilization of telemedicine services, competition for each patient is driving many organizations to consider how they are staying engaged with their service population. COVID either created or exposed gaps in service territories, and now hospitals should reassure patients they are available to serve them, while still remaining safe.
Strengthen market position. Whether it’s related to market position, debt capacity or appropriately controlling costs, it is imperative for hospitals to strengthen their position to achieve long-term success. This goal may be achieved by taking unique approaches in the market or making difficult decisions related to struggling service lines that continue to require significant subsidy, but the healthcare landscape we all knew just six months ago is most likely forever changed.
Evaluate resource utilization. Sustainable organizations employ consistent methods to monitor utilization and identify areas of variation. Variation could be evident in utilization of supplies, care pathways, outcomes or staffing, but success in this area takes diligence and commitment, so hospitals should start now.
Revisit and refresh strategic plan. COVID caused many organizations to quickly adapt their strategies to maintain relevance. The ability to quickly shift directions is one sign of a resilient organization, and it’s now a requirement of many organizations to ensure their course is reset for the future. Even if a hospital’s strategic plan doesn’t need to be redone, it should be revisited to ensure it is supporting the potential changes experienced in the last few months.
Hospital systems are undeniably feeling the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly five months into the crisis, many hospitals are struggling at a time when patients need them most. Leaders should take time now to evaluate their facility’s long-term outlook and consult an expert to ensure they are prepared for future events. For more information contact Mark Armstrong or Michael Corbett at LBMC’s Healthcare Practice to learn more.