As we move into post-peak pandemic phases throughout the country, hospitals are focused on quickly and safely ramping up their elective procedures, which account for about half of their revenues. In an RCA Benchmarking Analysis conducted by Crowe for nearly 1,500 hospitals, the daily revenue losses for hospitals with 100+ beds was an astounding $1.44 billion between March 1st and April 15th, 2020. To recover this lost volume, the average hospital needs to run at 110% of previous capacity for six months.
Providing alternative ways for patients to access care forestalls a different kind of public health crisis caused by delayed or forgone care – and can mean the difference between organizations that continue serving their communities for decades to come and those that will be forced to close. At the same time, it’s essential to keep practices in place that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and continue to provide the best possible care to both COVID and non-COVID patients alike.
Addressing the Most Common Communication Gaps
In our educational webinar “Roadmap to Recovery: Communication Strategies to Maximize Revenue and Ensure Continuity of Care” on May 28th, CipherHealth’s VP of Clinical Services, Lyndsey Lord, MBA, RN, discussed three essential considerations for managing the clinical and operational impact of deferred procedures.
1. Prepare to Resume Elective Procedures
“We need to be able to allow for a resurgence in appointments due to deferred care while maintaining safety,” Lord said. “As hospitals and health systems begin to reopen, they need to improve access to care in a thoughtful and strategic manner. This may include having one path for COVID patients and one path for non-COVID patients”.
Preparing for reopening means having operations in place to screen all staff as well as patients for symptoms of COVID-19, and ensuring the facility has enough space to ramp up operations to handle pent-up demand.
2. Build Trust Among Your Community
“We need to be able to allow for a resurgence in appointments due to deferred care while maintaining safety”, Lord said. “As hospitals and health systems begin to reopen, they need to improve access to care in a thoughtful and strategic manner. This may include having one path for COVID patients and one path for non-COVID patients”.
To resume elective procedures, organizations need to expand safety protocols to meet CMS guidelines by:
- Screening all patients for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to arrival
- Routinely screening all staff members and employees
- Ensuring the facility has sufficient staff, space, and resources to manage care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients – without jeopardizing surge capacity
3. Engage the Right Patients at Right Time
The patient experience must feel meaningfully different. As organizations ramp up operations, they need to be strategic about who they engage, when, and how. One way of managing this is to identify and bring in the most vulnerable, at-risk patients first, potentially determined as:
- Patients whose elective surgeries or procedures have been canceled/rescheduled,
- Patients who have expressed physical, mental, or social needs, or
- Patients who face higher risk of poorer outcomes due to condition or age.
Additionally, certain types of elective procedures may be more time-sensitive, such as oncology care. For those procedures deemed more essential, additional reminders may be put into effect.
It’s more important than ever to proactively reach and engage patients during the critical window of time before flu season and a potential next wave of COVID infection. Providers can ensure continuity of care by using automation to help care members intervene as necessary, as part of your communication stream. Thankfully, there are many options available to proactively screen, monitor, and educate patients en-masse during post-peak pandemic phases.
Listen to the full on-demand webinar recording for recommendations on how to start successfully managing the clinical and operational impact of deferred elective procedures.
Register for our next “Roadmap to Recovery” webinar, “Purposeful Rounding in the Time of COVID-19.