How to Refocus Priorities Upended by COVID-19
In our first edition of this blog series, Evaluating 2020 Data—Is It Useful or Not? we discussed how to approach and make sense of 2020 data and use it for strategic planning. In this post, we’ll build upon that idea and consider how strategic planners can adjust and refocus their priorities after a disruption of such magnitude as COVID-19.
How can strategic planners start again? By moving forward in the face of many unknowns and building a new strategy based on a year of data irregularities. The insights shared here will hopefully provide a starting point to do so.
The best way to revive your planning strategy is to reassess and reset priorities. Identify how patient needs and demands in your market have shifted over the past year, and gauge how your growth plans should follow suit. Consider these areas of focus:
Telehealth: Investing in brick-and-mortar buildings may not be the right strategy for the near future. Instead, it may be time to double-down on telehealth offerings. For the first time, many new opportunities for telehealth are available thanks to the reimbursement rate changes put into place last year. Medicare now reimburses for fee-for-service telehealth visits and CMS is covering nine new telehealth services. If your patient population has shown a keen interest in telehealth over the past year, then opening a robust, more efficient telehealth operation may be the right move.
Urgent care: For many hospitals, ER visits are down significantly, as patients have been fearful of hospitals or don’t want to face the high deductible they have to pay when they go in. If this is the case in your market, then consider a shift in your ER strategy, with a greater focus on urgent care openings. Get help picking the right spot by reviewing these six tips for picking a convenient, attractive location.
Patient engagement and outreach: Increased marketing to your patient population may be more important than ever. It will take time and regular nudging to remind patients that it’s safe (and important) for them to still get their wellness visits, annual checkups, and screenings. Some micro-targeting, similar to the strategy executed by Tanner Health System, will uncover the psychographic and demographic makeup of your market, provide block group level insights, and improve your marketing and outreach ROI.
Planners should consider these shifting patient utilization patterns as they evaluate how to prepare for the future. Tapping into the needs of your market, and coming to terms with how patients now want to receive care, will be critical to creating a successful growth plan.
If you’d like more information on how to reevaluate your virtual care strategy, check out our post on Planning for the Future of Telehealth. For help with your urgent care strategy or patient engagement and outreach, schedule a time to talk with one of our planning experts today.
Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP, Strategic Advisory Services for Stratasan