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Recovering from the financial impact of COVID-19

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

by Cerner Corporation

Published on 6/8/2020

As a health care professional, you wake up every day with a mission to provide care for others – a mission that has been elevated as a key emphasis during COVID-19. As the pandemic continues, many health care organizations must first recover from operational and financial burdens that have stemmed from COVID-19.

In some cases, health systems and hospitals were forced to work rapidly to increase bed capacity; stockpile critical personal protective gear, medical supplies and other essential equipment; learn new technology and workflows; and address mounting concerns around clinician wellness.

At times, health care organizations were in parallel universes. For some, the pandemic brought patient surges, while others saw volumes sharply decrease due to the cancelation of elective and scheduled surgeries. In both cases, financial margins have taken a serious hit. A recent study from the American Hospital Association estimates a total projected impact of $206 billion in losses, or an average of $50.7 billion per month, for U.S. hospitals and health systems from March through June of this year.

Now, organizations face the complex challenge of defining the new normal during a pandemic that’s waning in some areas, continuing to surge in others and has potential for multiple waves. A gradual resumption of services beyond COVID-19 must be balanced with the safety of employees, patients and the community.

While the approach to getting back on track financially and operationally isn’t one-size-fits-all, we’ve developed this framework to help you navigate the recovery phase of the pandemic and the new realities of health care operations and delivery.

  • Prepare for recovery: The first step is assessing your organization’s geographic and operational readiness and care delivery preparedness. This COVID-19 forecasting model predicts peak surge dates and can determine the number of beds and ventilators needed based on the predicted surge in each U.S. county. The prepare stage also includes planning communication and outreach to assure patients that hospitals are safe, clean and ready to provide non-COVID-19 care. You’ll also have to make considerations for your workforces, venue- and service-specific care delivery processes and post-discharge follow-up.
  • Restart: Your organization will need to manage demand for services while proceeding with care delivery amid changes in consumer expectations and a shift toward digital-first patient engagement. From pre-arrivals through post-discharge, data and analytics will help you determine priority areas, efficiently allocate resources and produce better outcomes. Cerner collaborated with Lumeris on a free COVID-19 hospitalization index model designed to help your organization identify at-risk individuals for unplanned hospitalizations.
  • Optimize: The pandemic is driving an increased use of telehealth, therefore increasing the demand for analytics consulting and customer relationship management tools as organizations scale this technology and expand care capacity. In the U.S., organizations must appropriately manage federal and state stimulus funds and adjust to improve financial and operational viability.

At the onset of this pandemic, clinicians raced to save lives ─ vital work that continues. Now health care organizations must start to progress through and beyond this public health crisis. With the right framework, your organization can thrive in the new reality of health care operations.

Cerner is dedicated to helping our clients thrive through and beyond this public health crisis.Learn more here.

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