- COVID-19 recovery is slow-moving and requires going back to the drawing board regarding the financial allocation and plans moving forward.
- Clinician burnout is at its highest levels post-pandemic and can be remedied with an overhaul of communication tools and expectations.
- Halo Health provides four key areas to help healthcare organizations achieve financial and operational recovery.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is becoming more of a memory than the everyday hurdle it once was. Finally, healthcare organizations can work on their plan for recovery from the financial impact of COVID-19.
Increasing profitability to address the financial impact of COVID-19 will require healthcare organizations to take a multi-prong approach.
We have four key tips for recovery, as we previously discussed our March blog post. The four tips to growing profitability and addressing the financial impact of COVID-19 include focusing on patient relationships, physician quality, technology, and clinician burnout.
Recap: The Financial Impact of COVID-19
With vaccinations and loosening guidelines, healthcare organizations can begin to recoup the extreme losses faced during the pandemic.
The culmination of canceling elective surgeries, canceled and forgone care from the shelter in place measures, and new COVID-related costs impacted healthcare organizations greatly. According to Healthcare Dive, US hospitals lost over $22.3 billion over just three months at the start of the pandemic.
Moving forward with recovery from the impact of COVID-19 will be a slow and involved process. In addition to pre-COVID numbers and expectations, COVID-19 has brought about new standards for technology in healthcare organizations. For example, telehealth has taken a front seat, as well as the importance of staff wellbeing.
Post-COVID Recovery Efforts
The lingering effects of the pandemic on healthcare organizations remain. For example, a report from Kaufman Hall states hospitals could lose between $53 billion and $122 billion in 2021.
To recover and overcome the financial impact of COVID-19, existing and new concerns need to be addressed. As also suggested by Healthcare Dive, hospitals should consider “hiring more staff, scheduling procedures on nights and weekends, and directing marketing efforts toward assuaging patient fears about returning to get care.”
As we previously recommended, a focus on patient relationships is a central part of recovering from the financial impact of COVID-19. Yet, thus far, healthcare organizations struggle to deal with apprehensive patients and are far from getting back to the admissions and surgery numbers pre-COVID.
A fundamental way to strengthen patient relationships is addressing the fear and offering additional options for patients, including telehealth and exceptional care. Patient satisfaction leads to loyalty and referrals, which help with profitability.
Physician Quality and Support
Our next recommendation for recovery from the financial impact of COVID-19 is specific to physician quality. As Healthcare Dive suggests, hiring more staff and physicians may be required as part of the recovery plan, but keeping quality standards high is essential. Keeping and meeting these standards might include a “reset” of policies. As Fierce Healthcare discusses, a “reset” not only keeps policies top of mind but supports physicians with new guidelines.
A policy reset would reiterate standing policies and address changes, including the changes to physician requirements. Christine Sinsky, MD, said, “There has been a heightened receptivity to the importance of preserving physicians’ and other healthcare professionals’ time, cognitive bandwidth, and emotional reserve for the direct care of patients…”
For recovery post-COVID, healthcare organizations need all hands on deck, and valuing and supporting physicians is vital.
Consolidate Technology for Profitability
Our next recommendation for recovery from the financial impact of COVID-19 is a consolidation of technology. The pandemic shone a bright light on the remote work and care options that needed to be improved and accessible. Moving forward, healthcare organizations will be expected to have these options, and finances should be attributed to this, something likely not included in the financial plans years back.
Additionally, while some technology was used during the pandemic, including Facetime, this is not HIPAA-compliant and will require changes. Technology consolidation supports the bottom line by creating effective communication and creating accessibility for all.
Addressing Clinician Burnout
Finally, addressing burnout is a part of a successful post-COVID recovery plan. Levels of burnout in clinicians hit new highs over the pandemic. Medscape ran a survey of over 12,000 physicians in 29 specialties from August 30th to November 5th, 2020. The survey asked about their overall well-being during the pandemic.
Survey findings included:
- 51% of female physicians surveyed indicated they were burned out
- 79% of physicians surveyed stated burnout started before the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s no secret burnout is a problem for clinicians and was only exacerbated during the pandemic. Burnout is costing healthcare organizations billions each year between mistakes, understaffing, physician turnover, and more.
Ways to reduce burnout and avoid impact to profitability include improvements to the work environment, including resources and tools for stress, workload redistribution, changes to policies, and supporting efficient communication for clinicians.
Communication: A Bottom Line Priority for Recovery from the Financial Impact of COVID-19
Our four keys to profitability and post-COVID recovery rely on effective communication. Halo Health has a specific priority to minimize clinician burnout through effective communication, which frequently gets convoluted in healthcare organizations.
Clinicians are regularly weighed down by information overload while balancing dozens of communication services from email to pagers and more. Streamlined communication helps to avoid confusion, overwhelm, and dangerous patient outcomes. With effective communication, healthcare organizations see an improvement in patient satisfaction and a decrease in clinician burnout.