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Hospital Revenue Recovery in a Post-Quarantine World: Can it Be Done?

By 05.21.20
Reading time: 3 minutes

We’ve all been affected by the rise of Covid-19 and its resulting changes to our family and working dynamics. Beyond the impact individuals and communities have experienced due to the Coronavirus pandemic, hospitals and providers have been hit hard as they not only try to save lives, but save their livelihoods.

In the US alone, it is estimated that the total cost of treating infected patients has reached 1.4 trillion dollars — with $115 billion in medicare costs. At the same time, many hospitals are reporting up to 40% decreases in revenue, 75% decrease in volume on voluntary patient intake, all while experiencing an overwhelming increase in the need for supplies.

How can the US healthcare industry reconcile the fact that so many of our emergency and clinic facilities are full beyond capacity while at the same time nearly 450 of our rural hospitals are at risk of closure due to loss of revenue

If we want hospital revenue recovery to happen quickly, we need to respond strategically — and that means we need to understand why these two realities can coexist.

Deferred elective procedures, deferred revenue

In response to increased need for Covid-related hospital accommodations, and per guidance from the government, elective patient services have been deferred.

Elective cases are a large source of revenue for many hospitals. The revenue gained from these elective procedures enables increased financial security for hospitals, allowing them to risk a loss on certain other services while remaining profitable. But at some point, revenue reservoirs dried up.

In a post-Covid world, how can healthcare companies successfully begin to refill their reserves and reschedule elective cases? As an industry, we’ll need to align on a plan — one that ensures improved bottom lines, while maintaining a focus on quality care.

Route to revenue recovery: from reacting to rebuilding

In the early “reaction” stage, as Salesforce calls it, Silverline helped clients implement and tailor solutions as they respond to new needs ushered in by the pandemic. We helped Truman Medical Center as they rushed to handle the influx of patient calls and questions relating to Covid-19. With Caliburn-Comprehensive Health Services, Silverline created a customized, public-facing Covid-19 hub for employees to use. We’ve also equipped many of our clients with the tools they need to continue their work remotely as business models and requirements changed.

While the US slowly moves out of sheltering in place and re-enters the workforce, how best can we move forward to ensure that both patient and provider needs are met?

Patients need to know it’s safe to come back

As the effect of the pandemic levels out, providers know that patients have clinical needs that have been put on hold for safety precautions and state-based quarantine orders to shelter in place. As states open up, hospitals and clinics should focus on highlighting efforts made to confirm that it’s safe to come back — that it’s safe to reschedule appointments.

Patients with highest needs should be addressed first

It’s important to make sure that the patients who have the highest clinical need are prioritized to get back on the schedule first. Elective surgeries span a spectrum of needs, from cosmetic corrections to joint replacements. Patient outreach needs to include messaging around prioritizing, without downplaying the importance of those farther out on the calendar. Higher-priority procedures often involve specialists and specific, expensive equipment, therein increasing the cost. So prioritizing by clinical need allows healthcare facilities to manage high-priority patient needs with a faster route to revenue recovery overall.

Laying a new foundation

Right now, it’s important that the healthcare industry continue to address current challenges head-on, while preparing their workforce for the next phase of normal as consumers and patients start to schedule out postponed procedures and appointments. 

New solutions can not act as quick fixes. Taking the time now to build out a new foundation based on financial, administrative, and clinical data will ensure that this industry is better prepared for the next public health crisis, while also operating in a new model of care

Processes, procedures, and protocols will need to be updated and upgraded to accommodate new realities as an entire industry works through their own financial recovery while staying laser focused on healing their country. To do so, they will need to focus on: 

Advanced clinical excellence

  • Healthcare facilities can use Salesforce functionalities to execute on strategies to help clients resume normal hospital operations
  • For example, organizations are leveraging Cerner’s realtime procedure and schedule data to better facilitate getting routine procedures, such as colonoscopies, back on the calendar

Improved scheduling

  • For patients and practitioners, adopt and enforce best practices that enable easier avenues for making, keeping, and following up on appointments
  • Tailor your Salesforce org to help automate outreach to ensure no patient needs go unmet, or appointments (even routine) are overlooked

Exceptional care

Building a foundation to help sustain the healthcare industry in good times and in crisis is no easy task. Hospitals and providers need to have the right tools and the right partner to help implement new processes — and to understand the nuances of industry requirements.

If you’re looking for a partner to help your healthcare organization start to rebuild in a post-quarantine reality, check out our solutions for revenue recovery.

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