As the global pandemic continues to spread, many healthcare providers are facing plummeting revenues and the prospect of furloughing thousands of employees. High impact “elective” procedures have been deferred to create short-term COVID capacity — at the cost of vital cash flow. With the prospect of a widely available coronavirus vaccine still some 12 to 18 months away, and many parts of the country reopening segments of the economy, understanding how to safely work through procedural backlogs is crucial. Healthcare leaders need to consider several factors in parallel while developing a strategy to serve impacted patients and restore the financial viability of their organization:
- Patient Clinical Need – while these procedures may be labeled as “electives,” the longer they are delayed, the more likely patients will experience increased health risks. Providers also face the prospect of increasing surgical complexity and deteriorating outcomes as a result of an extended deferment. It will be important to prioritize patients with the highest clinical need first and address their cases as soon as safely possible. (1)
- Patient Financial Need – with rising unemployment, many patients will lose insurance coverage. Employer-sponsored plans may continue to cover individuals for a brief period of time. Following that period, patients will be responsible for the bill if they are uninsured, and some patients may not move forward with medically necessary procedures for financial reasons. Efficiently serving patients in a way that minimizes financial strains on their families will help our communities recover more quickly from the economic impacts of the pandemic. (2)
- Provider Revenue Gap – continued balance sheet erosion due to the deferment of elective procedures is an existential threat for many healthcare providers. Maintaining a reliable flow of high impact procedures is akin to putting on your oxygen mask in the event of an emergency before helping others. Providers who find a way to sustain these procedures safely will feel less financial pressure to make difficult decisions such as furloughing staff. (3), (4)
To successfully address each of these important factors, health systems must adopt a data-driven approach to maximize every available opportunity to serve patients safely. Many organizations are considering extending operating hours and including weekends to make progress on the backlog of procedures while the opportunity exists. Having a line of sight into the duration of this window of opportunity can help leaders prioritize the appropriate case-mix for the maximum impact.
To support our provider partners in this effort, the Qventus team has created a set of sophisticated predictive planning tools to guide their decision making.
- Elective Procedure Planner – building from the publicly available Localized COVID Model and Scenario Planner, which is 2-3x more accurate than IHME’s forecasts, the Qventus Elective Surgery Planner helps organizations identify windows of opportunity to work through procedural backlogs ethically, safely, and efficiently. Integrating outputs from the Localized COVID Model and Scenario Planner, it employs a supply-demand optimization algorithm to:
- Effectively identify the safe operative windows, preventing unnecessary reactive shut-offs when COVID demand re-emerges, and
- Maximize these windows of opportunity, equipping administrators with the insights necessary to evaluate the impact of operational and scheduling strategies on the procedural backlog while the window is open
- 5-Step Checklist to Optimize Time-Sensitive Surgeries – helps clarify several elective surgery misconceptions such as taking an overly conservative approach and prioritizing only outpatient surgeries. Each misconception is explained and positioned as an opportunity for the organization to improve how they serve patients. The opportunities offer specific resources and examples for providers to leverage as they develop elective strategies before the next wave of COVID demand.
If your organization is interested in improving your planning processes while ensuring patient safety and reinforcing your organization’s bottom line, click here to access the checklist today. You can also watch an online demonstration of the elective surgery planning tool.
Qventus is the leading provider of patient flow automation systems for hospitals and health systems. The Qventus platform integrates with and extends EHRs by applying AI and behavioral science to: identify and predict operational issues before they occur, orchestrate actions among frontline teams and ancillaries, and manage accountability to drive continuous improvement. Qventus works with 70+ leading organizations across the country, including Dignity Health, M Health Fairview, Mercy, and NewYork-Presbyterian. These partners are achieving transformative results across inpatient, ED, perioperative, and system operations settings, including 0.3 to 0.8 day reductions in LOS, elimination of thousands of excess days, and 50%+ reductions in ED LWBS. For more, visit www.qventus.com.
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