How Hospitals Can Rebound After COVID-19

Hospitals and health systems have been majorly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, facing substantial revenue loss due to the cancellation of elective surgeries and non-emergency medical procedures. Emergency rooms have also seen a severe reduction in patient visits, largely due to delayed primary care and fears of exposure to COVID-19. 

Supply chain disruptions coupled with the rising cost of treating patients and protecting staff have further intensified the pressure on hospital revenue.  Some hospitals, particularly those located in coronavirus hotspots, have had to provide additional support and resources such as transportation, child care, and in some cases housing and relocation costs for medical care workers being brought in to provide extra help. At the same time, many people have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, which has led to a rise in the number of uninsured.

As coronavirus infection rates slow down, restrictions ease and states reopen, hospitals can begin to take the necessary steps towards financial recovery. In the coming weeks, hospitals across the country are starting to ramp up surgical and diagnostic procedures and will be going through a backlog of patients that need care, prioritizing those that are most important to do first. Many are reopening in phases, bringing patients back at a lower capacity and beginning to offer some less invasive procedures such as knee replacements and colonoscopies, while keeping an eye on maintaining an essential reserve capacity should there be another influx of COVID-19 patients.

To increase revenue and profitability, hospitals are starting to resume scheduling and performing elective procedures that had been canceled during the pandemic. Radiology is often the profit center of hospitals, and hospitals can benefit by re-engaging and scheduling patients that have pushed back their preventive screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and angiograms. 

A National Cancer Institute model is predicting in excess of 10,000 U.S. cancer deaths over the next decade due to delays in diagnosis brought about by the pandemic. Re-establishing communication with patients is important to help patients stay on top of their health and avoid unnecessary complications down the line.

One recent innovation to support the global response to COVID-19 was cloud-based software company Salesforce announcing the Accelerate Reflective Procedures solution for healthcare providers. This platform proactively-re-engages patients and reschedules elective procedures and services that had been delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. It will enable providers to prioritize patients by most immediate need, streamline the intake process, and restart postponed care with patients—making sure that they are scheduled for their procedures as soon as possible.

Similarly, in the Radiology space, Within Health developed a solution that securely analyzes past radiology reports using Natural Language Processing, identifies patients that have recommendations or follow ups, and re-engages these patients and their referring providers through personalized communication channels. The platform also provides scheduling tools to increase conversion rates and bring patients back for their exams. 

This type of direct engagement and frequent communication with patients, will help hospitals increase the likelihood of a successful return for follow up care, and ultimately accelerate the path to financial recovery. 

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