COVID-19 and Health Care: Strategies to Act Now and Plan for What’s Next

As health care organizations are besieged with information about the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic impacts, formulating the data into effective financial, clinical, and organizational responses can be challenging.

In addition to caring for hundreds-of-thousands of patients, health care organizations must navigate the parallel crisis of managing financial and business efforts without providing high-margin elective and non-emergent procedures.

Despite these strains, it’s critical for organizations to prepare for the post-pandemic environment from operational, financial, and patient-care perspectives. Some key questions to consider include:

  • How will your organization move forward when COVID-19 casework isn’t the only thing on which your collective team is concentrating?
  • Will the organization be strategically positioned and financially able to operate and steadily progress towards normal—or new normal—operations?

In our COVID-19 and Health Care article series, our industry specialists will distill their observations from the field to help health care systems and providers manage the current crisis, stabilize their organizations, and position themselves to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.

Below are top strategies organizations can implement to respond to current challenges and plan for the future.

Strategy, Safety, and Operations

Many health care organizations’ immediate responses to COVID-19 were to:

  • Launch their emergency response plans
  • Monitor the spread of the virus
  • Prioritize the safety of their patients and workforce

Nearly two months into COVID-19 responses, however, many organizations are expanding their attention to include the safety and viability of their company—especially as financial and workforce pressures continue to increase. The most prepared organizations are:

  • Improving their operations by aligning strategy and empowering frontline teams to create, test, and implement solutions
  • Establishing business or administrative command centers
  • Facilitating dynamic planning regarding how to survive the pandemic and ensuing economic fallout
  • Building their business model for the future

Additional Resources

The following resources address each of the above improvement strategies—providing a high-level overview of how to bolster your operations while navigating your organization’s strategy going forward.

Reimbursement and Revenue Cycle

As patient volumes have deteriorated due to a hold on elective procedures, the Federal Government has started sending billions of dollars to help keep health care providers solvent.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, grants, payroll protection, and accelerated payments, are providing emergency cash and meeting the fixed-cost demands of running operations. However, these funds come with some strings attached—including external reporting requirements and procedural considerations—that providers need to be aware of.

Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies have provided relief to hospitals and physicians with a long list of compliance, enrollment, and coverage items that may provide opportunity in the near term. However, they could create significant challenges once the public health emergency has been lifted.

While these reimbursement opportunities could be challenging to navigate, providers should explore all options to determine what’s best for their operations and market. Not all initiatives include consequences, and some could provide significant benefits if managed correctly.

Additional Resources

Here a few resources to help your organization navigate reimbursement opportunities and potentially increase cash flow.

Relief, Stimulus, and Compliance

There are several COVID-19-related financial relief efforts for the health care sector. These take the form of:

  • CARES Act funding
  • Other federal grants
  • Advanced payments
  • Delays or suspensions of payment cuts
  • Loan programs
  • State and pass-through opportunities
  • Tax credits and payment delays
  • Private support

Understanding available opportunities and how to access them is crucial. However, it’s equally important to understand the requirements, prohibitions, implications, and compliance specifications of each opportunity so your organization can assess what’s right for its circumstances.

First and foremost, it’s important to determine your organization’s immediate and intermediate needs and how each opportunity—and potential side effects—align with those needs. As cash-on-hand evaporates, the need for financial solutions increases exponentially. While operating proactively and with urgency is essential to keeping an organization liquid, organizations should also be intentional and thoughtful about evaluating the myriad opportunities and what might come with those opportunities.

Additional Resources

Following are several resources to help your organization explore relief opportunities and potential impacts.

We’re Here to Help

Navigating COVID-19 while preparing for the post-pandemic environment can be daunting—especially given the resource constraints many health systems are facing.

If your organization needs assistance managing a cash-flow crunch, streamlining its operational approach, or enhancing the benefit of federal, state, and private supplemental funding opportunities, our industry specialists can help.

Note on COVID-19

During this unparalleled time, we’re closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it evolves so we can provide up-to-date guidance and support to help you combat uncertainty. For regulatory updates, strategies to help cope with subsequent risk, and possible steps to bolster your workforce and organization, please see the following resources: