Every healthcare organization, large or small, depends on an internal gyroscope to assure its organizational stability and maintain its administrative and clinical navigation systems. That healthcare gyroscope is a delicate combination of management, governance, and medical attitudes and processes that keeps all complex healthcare organizations functioning in a way that serves the best interests of its patients and associated communities.
The COVID pandemic has impacted every aspect of our society in ways that we immediately understand and in other ways that it may take years and years to comprehend. In this regard, no institution may have been more emotionally and managerially impacted by the pandemic than the American hospital. That healthcare gyroscope in many healthcare providers has likely been knocked on its side and is now uselessly spinning sending the organization off in haphazard directions.
In the post-pandemic period healthcare leaders need to locate the most necessary set of strategic and operating plans which will most immediately re-establish that internal healthcare gyroscope. Here are a handful of suggested strategies that may prove most essential.
- Consumer-Centricity. Over the past 10 years, Big Tech moved the consumer to the very center of the economic competitive model. But the pandemic pushed that consumer-centric model to an even more prominent and unexpected level. Consumer centricity is now the essential basis for economic competition. Speed to market is clearly the critical component of corporate success. For healthcare organizations, customer-centricity will translate to a “simple” digital system of care that will allow patients to easily navigate their journey from diagnosis to treatment to recovery. Every American provider should assume that patients will aggressively migrate to the “easiest” healthcare solution available.
- Operating Efficiency. Continuous improvement in long-term cost structure and market share is necessary to generate sufficient margin and access to capital. Going forward, operating efficiency is likely to pivot around the following key objectives:
- seek the lowest cost possible for all transactional functions;
- aggressively push toward paths for product and service improvement;
- maximize organic revenue growth;
- streamline the corporate structure by eliminating unnecessary entities, boards and committees; and
- align capital allocation to high priority strategies and goals
- Value-Based Care Strategies. The pandemic highlighted the inexorable movement from fee-for-service to value-based payments. The rotation to value-based payments is moving at different speeds in different markets. Your payment product portfolio must not fall behind the pace of change in your particular market or markets. In this regard, double-down on the size and quality of your primary care network in order to support developing value based care options. And enter into the insurance marketplace in a way that is consistent with the size and financial capability of your organization.
- Workforce Development Strategies. A combination of the pandemic and what is referred to as the 4th industrial revolution has turned workforce issues into perhaps management’s most pressing long-term problem. Necessary clinical and administrative transformation will significantly change both traditional workforce roles and the attitudes and desires of the workforce itself. To properly prepare for the hard problems ahead, think of the following. First, identify areas of high workforce demand and make plans to meet that demand, and second, develop formal employee re-skilling programs offering career changes for impacted staff. Finally, give much thought to how the culture of your hospital matches up to the very difficult decisions around the developing hybrid office/remote work environment.
The healthcare environment has never been static. But change has been incremental and to a great extent predictable. The COVID pandemic has brought new, unpredictable external forces to healthcare that have already begun to affect the nature of healthcare’s competitive dynamic and accelerate the pace of change. To weather this new environment, healthcare organizations need to achieve a new basis of stability. The above four strategies and their associated day-to-day tactics are just the beginning of the post-pandemic re-set for American healthcare providers. But together they can combine to set that organizational gyroscope spinning back toward governance, managerial, and clinical stability.