The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted the way businesses operate, and for long-term healthcare providers, many of those changes are here to stay. While there has been little time to adjust to the “new normal,” providers shouldn’t get too comfortable yet. Among the many lessons COVID has taught us, organizations need to embrace flexibility in their business models and innovate at a quicker pace if they want to succeed in the long term.
When you think back to the first few months of the pandemic, non-essential businesses in many states were forced to shut their doors for weeks at a time. And when they were finally able to reopen, many continued to struggle because they could not meet demands for social distancing, or because they did not have the technical capabilities or know-how to reconfigure operations to meet evolving customer demands. Sadly, many of these businesses have had to close their doors for good.
Would the fate of these businesses have been different if they had a reliable resource they could have leaned on for valuable advice and industry expertise? Healthcare executives need a plan to protect their operation – before the next emergency – to address critical issues and challenges that directly affect their bottom line. And more importantly, those plans need to adapt as patient needs change and revenue goals shift. Aligning your organization with consultants who have years of experience bringing troubled businesses back into good standing will provide the fresh perspective you need to overcome challenges and keep goals in sight.
No doubt one of the biggest challenges still impacting the healthcare industry is staffing. Providers have learned to do more with fewer resources, and unfortunately, this can directly affect the level of care a patient receives. Employees may be taking on work that they may not be qualified for or properly trained on, either because employers cannot hire and retain enough workers, or because they lack the bandwidth to conduct thorough training.
Patient demands have shifted too, with services such as telehealth and virtual care picking up speed. Providers who have yet to embrace this new reality are likely to fall behind others who are more accepting and proactive when new technologies emerge.
Fill employment gaps with interim leadership support
Navigate new industry trends & technologies
Assess patient care requirements with revenue goals in mind
Since we cannot expect industry issues with staffing to dissipate anytime soon, providers need to start thinking more creatively for other ways to meet operational demands even when intake levels spike. This should begin with a deep dive into an organization’s workflow, and an analysis of how those workflows align to existing processes, procedures, and technology. If these do not speak to each other, updates need to occur to keep work efficient and compliant with regulatory requirements.
Part of this analysis should include periodic reviews of the organization’s staffing structure and job descriptions. Modifications may be necessary to account for employees now working remotely, as well as additional layers of protection for positions with access to sensitive patient information. Especially for employees with remote capabilities, performance should be carefully monitored and employees should be held accountable for their designated responsibilities.
Rewrite job descriptions to better meet operational demands
Streamline roles to create more efficient workflows
Conduct annual reviews of policies and procedures, revamping to meet any new requirements
Identify and minimize security and regulatory risks
In a time when every dollar flowing in and out of the organization is crucial, providers are looking for more ways to cut costs or free up cash flow wherever possible. While some solutions may be more obvious, such as taking advantage of government relief funding (if available) and optimizing revenue cycle management, providers may need a fresh set of eyes to help them alleviate some of this burden.
One option providers should consider is a review of their payer mix. Although many commercial or private insurers pay more for care than government health plans tend to, the tradeoff is that they likely take longer to be reimbursed, which places more stress on an already overstretched revenue cycle. Providers may also be tempted to take in any patient that walks through the door – especially when census is down – however doing so carries its own set of risks. Instead, focus on payers with existing contracts and relationships, and those who process claims at a faster rate.
Assess your financial position and provide realistic forecasts
Navigate options for governmental funding support
Determine the ideal payer mix for your unique organization
Detect and correct patterns with payer reimbursements and/or denials
The decisions and plans a provider makes today build a roadmap that can help them navigate unfamiliar territories when it matters the most. When you partner with Richter, you will get a clear picture of where your organization stands now, where it’s capable of going, and the steps you can take to get there.
For more information on how to enhance outcomes for your organization, contact Richter healthcare consultants online or call us at 866.806.0799.