After the Surge: Five Health System Imperatives in the Age of COVID-19
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of healthcare delivery fundamentally changed. In mid-March, as cases began to surge in regional hotspots from Seattle to New York, almost every U.S. healthcare system hit the “pause” button on normal operations. Now as providers look to “restart,” few will return to their prior clinical operating or business models.
While the COVID-19 curve of the first surge has flattened in some regions, the crisis is far from over. Beyond that, health systems may find that the aftermath of the current crisis will be more challenging than the initial surge itself. The post-COVID-19 surge landscape will be characterized by a materially resized and reshaped patient and consumer base. This landscape is paired with a pressing provider need to substantively reduce costs, while refining clinical operations to provide coexisting dual systems of care for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
As health system leaders prepare to “restart” broad-based care delivery, they must put in place a careful, coordinated, timely and comprehensive plan. They must manage the concurrent short- to mid-term challenges of recapturing volume and restructuring their cost base and supporting operations. Additionally, they must strategically position themselves for the long-term as care delivery leaders in their community. Without such an approach, it is not a stretch to contemplate that a $1 billion revenue health system emerges from the post-COVID-19 surge as an $850 million one.
In times of crisis, it is often challenging to look beyond the emergency at hand. However, in the post-COVID-19 surge landscape, health systems have no choice. The future is no less daunting. In this paper, we summarize the current market state and highlight five imperatives that health systems must successfully navigate in the new reality.