Path Forward Blog4 Truths and a Lie
4 Truths and a Lie for Healthcare Practices After COVID-19
How will operations change for healthcare practices after COVID-19?
As I reflect on the intense activity over the last couple months, the only fitting word to describe it is surreal. It’s hard to imagine any other scenario that could impact every person in the world in such a short span of time. I’ve been equally humbled to witness America step up and make the sacrifices necessary to keep us safe.
Identifying the wins is going to be the foundation of our new normal – especially as it comes to healthcare business models, patient relationships, running a successful practice and fitting telehealth into the future scheduling norms.
We must consider what worked well as we were forced to pivot, and how those learnings, new habits and processes translate into a model for what it looks like to run healthcare practices after COVID-19.
Over the last few months, I’ve been navigating how the government-ordered restrictions are impacting our team at Path Forward and also our clients, the hundreds of specialty physicians and practices from 20+ different states that we support and serve every day.
I’ve started a list of truths based on the systems, characteristics and circumstances that I witnessed as factors involved in successfully weathering the onset and navigating the COVID-19 pivot to get to where we are today. It’s by no means exhaustive, and as of today, we don’t yet have a clear picture of how we transition safely into the future, but I do believe these are a few of the elements we need to build on so we all come back stronger.
#1: Plans provide a head start, but it’s the PEOPLE that determine success
I have long been an advocate of planning and anticipating for any scenario, whether for security breaches, natural disasters or power outages. In fact, strategic planning is one of the most important services we offer at Path Forward. When the COVID-19 restrictions started rolling out in March, we quickly put our own plans – AND our clients’ plans – to the test.
While those plans helped, we could not have anticipated the circumstances of COVID-19 nor that we would be activating all those plans at once! In the span of a few days – not weeks:
- Our team of IT experts worked 24/7 and successfully moved tens of thousands of employees – including our own AND many of our clients’ teams – to 100% remote.
- Simultaneously, these same IT experts were supporting our clients’ move to telehealth – providing troubleshooting for physicians and their patients 24/7.
- Meanwhile, our 500+ Patient Access team members and iVY users contacted patients. With the ability to represent individual client practices, they rescheduled hundreds of appointments to telehealth when possible, updating the patient record in real-time, directly into the client’s EHR.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of hiring awesome, dedicated, hardworking people who persevere in times of adversity, while demonstrating empathy, great service and outstanding character. Engaged employees make all the difference.
#2: Communication is more important than ever
The only way to combat some of the stress felt by a workforce – or patients – is to help keep them informed. While we may not know significantly more than our last communication, it’s important to have the channels in place to reach those important groups quickly.
As we look ahead to our new normal, we can anticipate needing to notify different groups about illnesses that affect work shifts and patient appointments. The ability to quickly connect to different segments of a workforce, group of clinicians or patients will be critical. Putting a channel in place that can quickly pull a customized list and then initiate a mass communication is a tenet of future success.
#3: We must embrace a mindset of flexibility and built-in elasticity
The ability to pivot and respond quickly requires new levels of flexibility and elasticity. While these concepts seem related, they are really two distinct ideas. Flexibility is the ability to change direction. It might mean letting go of some really important work and shifting to a new priority or way of doing something different, all for the sake of the greater good or goal. Elasticity demands some degree of flexibility but it suggests building out plans that help scale up – or down – quickly. Areas like staffing, services and financials can benefit from elasticity. Great teams embrace flexibility and plan for elasticity.
#4: It’s okay to ask for help
The fast-moving landscape is pushing everyone to new limits – testing our knowledge, skillsets and our resolve. Now is the time to set aside egos and turn to experts who might be able to fill in those gaps more quickly and more thoroughly. Consider the wealth of knowledge that exists from business partners, mentors or consultants. Similarly, from the other perspective, it’s time to BE an expert that others can lean on. Show a willingness for sharing knowledge, advice and expertise. We can and will come back stronger when we work together. I am truly grateful for the help and expertise I have received from both peers and clients!
#5: We will all get back to business as usual very soon!
As the title suggests, I promised four truths and a lie – this is the lie! There is no going back, we’re only going to look forward.
Business can’t go back to operating like they did in February 2020. The experiences of the last few months have shaped our perceptions. Knowing what is possible will shape our new version of business as usual, from how our workforces and clinics operate to what patients expect from providers in the future. While we have much to do as a country to keep people safe, I for one, am up for the challenge of working to find the right balance of old and new as we keep pushing for Better!
Be well. Stay safe.