Healthcare

Recovery Has Passed Us By – We Need Hospitals to Be Resilient

Crashing waves

Series Authors: Tom KiesauDr. Sam BhatiaPaul Griffiths

This series explores the uncomfortable reality that this adaptation will likely span a longer period of time than the authors believe has been widely expected. Three leading organizations — SalesforcePerficient, and The Chartis Group — have come together to share bright spots within the healthcare community that can point the way to building the necessary capacity to adapt.

It’s a sad truth that on July 9, 2020, COVID cases are on the rise in America. This series explores six key commitments leaders must make to ensure their organizations survive in a new, uncertain reality. Achieving these commitments will require clinical, marketing, and operations teams partnering more closely together and in a way they never have before.

The $200B question

The American Hospital Association estimates COVID-19’s financial impact will reach $200B by the end of June. As we anticipate continued disruption on the horizon, we must assess every system’s readiness to nimbly respond amid continued bouts of this crisis.

While the rate of adoption of telemedicine has been stunning – and proof that health systems can adapt if necessity drives that change – we now face a real possibility of continual disruption for the rest of the year. If this new normal involves turning on and off services, procedures, and locations to patients, we must determine what new capabilities are needed to continue to deliver functional care.

Revenue recovery efforts offered a necessary but insufficient first step – we urge you not to be complacent if you’re fortunate to have managed through a first wave. We have the benefit of some experience and understanding what could have better served us in the face of this pandemic.

The question we have asked leading healthcare executives, patient advocates, and ourselves is a simple one:

If we could turn back time, what would we do differently?

COVID exposed the fragility of many systems’ operating models: an over-reliance on a small number of services to fund expenses across the enterprise. As these services are typically elective care, further shut-downs – as is happening in Texas right now – present additional financial loss.

The Chartis Group estimates that 10% of the patient market for elective care will disappear. As many Americans lose their job, they lose their insurance and postpone these procedures or avoid receiving care altogether.

Any sizable reduction of the patient market naturally results in a significant increase in competition.

The known impact of COVID is higher costs, more uncertainty around patient volumes, and an increase in competition for patients. Still emerging though are the corrective actions hospitals can take to adapt in the midst of these realities.

Why this series: Revenue Resilience

This series explores the uncomfortable reality that this adaptation will likely span a longer period of time than the authors believe has been widely expected. Three leading organizations – SalesforcePerficient, and The Chartis Group – have come together to share bright spots within the healthcare community that can point the way to building the necessary capacity to adapt.

  • We believe this new reality may be with us for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
  • We believe transformation, not merely recovery, is the new goal.
  • We believe organizations can make commitments to adapt in the face of uncertainty.
  • We call this approach Revenue Resilience.

Heading into the initial weeks of COVID, healthcare organizations struggled to communicate directly with patients. From status of appointments to where to receive care – too many health care systems were scrambling to create solutions on the fly, deploying physicians and practitioners to directly call patients and patch together care solutions.

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Now that we recognize this pandemic is not a one-time event, we must honestly reassess our capabilities to communicate clearly and directly with patients.

The first commitment:

Establish the capability and expectation for 1-to-1 patient communications with demonstrated clinical intelligence.

Through the remainder of the year, hospitals will be struggling with timely, effective, and meaningful communication. And not just to patients but to its employees and donors.

When facilities, services, or physicians can open or close in a matter of days, it is essential to manage all communication at scale. Communication at scale is more than bulk emails or automated phone reminders.

Do you have the necessary infrastructure to reach patients today?

Authenticated systems, such as EMRs, provide specific knowledge. But as a patient, if you’ve attempted to access content through a portal such as MyChart, you know first-hand many of the messages offer you little tangible value.

In practice, EMRs have fallen far short of the vision. Hospitals need to provide the next best action for that person, and the deployment of a marketing automation tool is the only way to deliver these 1-to-1 conversations at scale.

To make these interactions relevant, we need to come alongside the EMR and build specific logic to ensure that immediate changes can cascade across all channels of communication.

Before the pandemic, automation was primarily valuable for its ability to drive conversions for elective procedures and interest in service-line content.

But now, marketing automation can drive conversations directly between patients and their physician and ensure they follow through with their care.

When a national provider needed to convince patients it was safe to come back, it did not approach this problem as a mass media PR effort. Instead, they leaned on their own Marketing & Communications department who built a multi-channel, highly personalized campaign.

With a reopening “Message from our CEO” posted to social platforms as a starting place, their efforts involved highly specific emails, SMS alerts, and patient portal notifications within minutes of campaign launch.

The message was delivered with precision, informing patients of what specific services they should expect to receive and where, in a secure and compliant fashion. After engaging their existing patient audience, they extended the winning techniques to potential patients who shared the similar service needs.

Pinpoint your weaknesses, build on your strengths

If there is an actionable first step, it is to pinpoint where the patient/consumer experience will most quickly break down in light of a shift in available services, then shore up the deficiencies.

An experience audit will determine where patients might leak out from their initial commitment to book an appointment online and can delve even more deeply to understand the specific fears your patients have about returning.

The success of the above mentioned re-opening campaign was possible because the organization had undertaken a commitment to more relevant, personalized customer journeys. Their team was able to mobilize quickly not because they had more foresight than others but because of the organization’s strategic investment in principles, people, and possibility.

In short, when presented with this completely new challenge, their team showed relevant experience in the face of a novel problem.

They were, in a word, resilient.

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In next week’s post, we’ll discuss the second commitment:

Expand access to all clinical specialties virtually, deploying a clinical operating model that seamlessly provides both virtual and physical care as needed/demanded.

About the Author

Paul Griffiths is the GM of the Digital Healthcare Solutions unit at Perficient, where he works with hospital and health plan marketing departments on digital initiatives. DHS services integrated healthcare delivery systems around the United States.

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