We looked back at the most common questions service line leaders asked us over the last year—and today, we're addressing your top two questions (as well as a third question that not enough leaders are asking) to support your planning in 2021.
1. How do I make patients comfortable coming back for care?
While some patients have opted to risk Covid-19 exposure in care facilities to continue their planned treatment (for example, existing cancer patients have largely continued to show up for care, and demand for weight loss surgery has actually grown), many patients are still leery about entering care facilities. In fact, the extent of consumer fear is so great that the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions found that more people are afraid of contracting Covid-19 (58%) than having a heart attack or stroke (42%). You can learn more about how Covid-19 has changed consumer behavior and preferences here, including the top 10 attributes that would increase comfort with seeking in-person care.
But given the significant backlog of patients waiting for delayed elective procedures and the enormous numbers who have avoided necessary screenings and care, what can service line leaders do to restore patient trust? We encourage leaders to:
- Revamp communication to ease consumer concerns.
- Expand services offerings that patients are comfortable with, such as telehealth.
2. How can we recoup volume and revenue loss?
Service line leaders know all too well that electives experienced a sharp decline in 2020. One study estimated that over 28 million surgeries were canceled or postponed worldwide during the 12 peak weeks of disruption due to Covid-19. To help organizations model the volume and revenue loss from canceled electives due to Covid-19, we created the Covid-19 Elective Surgery Cancelation Impact Estimator.
As programs look to work through their backlog and boost volumes for 2021, how can they do so effectively? According to an Advisory Board analysis, the average hospital could reduce year-end volume loss by 64.9% by strategically restarting and clearing key services. Rather than considering all elective services equally, develop service line specific strategies, and prioritize services based on factors like backlogged and new demand cases, ALOS, and allocated capacity. Read our blog post for a service prioritization list to get you started.
3. How can I advance health equity in 2021?
One question we didn't hear enough about was health equity—but we know it's a growing consideration throughout the industry, and one that needs action now. Covid-19 exposed underlying and often overlooked issues that have long hampered care in the United States. Health equity was at the forefront of these issues, as rural communities and people of color were disproportionally affected by the virus. The pandemic and efforts to advance racial justice across the country have caused many health leaders to acknowledge that racism is a public health crisis.
But while leaders understand health equity is a problem, they often don't know where to start. If you're just beginning your health equity journey, tune into our conversation with Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, to learn how the health system expanded care access to rural communities—and how physicians are leading the charge to address disparities in the communities they serve.