Helping Hospitals Get Back on their Feet with Advanced Analytics
By: Steve Sedlock, Chief Growth Officer
The healthcare market is still in chaos. Despite COVID-19 cases peaking and then declining in most parts of the US, hospitals are struggling to return to even a semblance of normalcy. As severe as the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 was, the fallout from the pandemic has arguably eclipsed it, not least because the factors involved aren’t merely fiscal but reach into every aspect of our society.
As EPSi CEO Ralph Keiser wrote in a recent post, our team has been on the front lines alongside our healthcare customers. In addition to coping with the spike in COVID-19 cases, the hospital systems we serve have had to cancel elective surgeries, often at the behest of state mandates.
This has decimated their finances to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, led to widespread job losses and furloughs on both the clinical and administrative sides, and left leaders unsure of how best to proceed.
Helping them figure out a realistic and prudent operational plan is a vital part of our core mission. As such, we continue to provide cutting-edge decision support tools and consulting services to help hospital executives accurately assess their local market, discover areas of opportunity, and put sensible plans into action. In addition to assisting hospitals accurately gauge where their businesses are at today, our software and services are empowering them to see where they’re heading tomorrow. To do so, we’ve created potent forecasting tools that utilize real-time data, dig deep into trends, and offer insight into what’s now and what’s next in healthcare.
Creating Solid Restart Plans
The first step was tailoring the power of our analytics tools to the particular threat that the pandemic posed to healthcare systems. Utilizing the latest information from our partner Johns Hopkins, we were able to not only survey the nationwide landscape but also apply that bigger picture to a hospital’s local population. This allowed hospital executives to avoid simply defaulting to worst-case contingency planning and to assess more accurately what was going on and what was likely to unfold in local communities.
In doing so, they could ensure that they had adequate PPE supplies, adjust staffing levels as the number of COVID-19 caseloads spiked, leveled off, and dropped, and then begin re-opening vital parts of their operation in accordance with nationwide, state, and local guidelines. The goal was and remains simple: enable our customers (and the non-customers who we also gave these tools for free) to better understand what was happening and make more realistic predictions about what was to come. In doing so, they’ve been able to better serve their staff and patients, as well as find a more secure financial footing amidst the market tumult caused by COVID-19.
As hospitals and health systems transition out of the acute phase of the pandemic, they must start offering elective surgeries and other services again or face fiscal obliteration. As such, they need to know which areas to focus on at each stage of their plan, as conditions on the ground continue to change rapidly. Some segments of the patient population, including the elderly, are understandably reluctant to come into medical facilities, fearing that they may still be exposed to COVID-19. Then there’s the state of the economy to consider. Someone who has lost their job or seen their income drop precipitously in the wake of the pandemic is likely to postpone or cancel their surgery if it’s not life-threatening.
The Power of Market Prioritization Analytics
These are just some of the many factors that our market prioritization analytics tool is helping hospitals get a handle on. It mines a robust database created at the University of Maryland, providing a more comprehensive understanding of socio-economic considerations and how healthcare providers can best serve their patient populations while observing social distancing rules and other directives from government and industry-specific regulatory bodies. The more deeply a hospital can comprehend what’s happening in their community, the better the decisions they’ll be able to make now and moving forward.
While healthcare systems want to get back to offering the same full suite of services as before the pandemic struck, that’s not going to happen right away. Our volume recovery analytics enables them to target those areas that they should focus on as they get back on their feet financially and operationally.
Forecasting a Fiscally Viable Future
With hospitals eager to move quickly from formulating a restart plan to putting that plan into practice, we’re also providing a rolling forecast application. This allows for the remodeling and recasting of an operating plan upon a firm, data-centric foundation. EPSi is also offering sophisticated, yet intuitive, cost accounting to ensure that hospitals can keep expenses under control during these testing times. All these applications are bundled in our advanced analytics package.
Having the right tools is one thing, but the real key is in understanding how to use them. That’s why EPSi also provides industry-leading consulting services. Unlike the Big 4, which charge $300 to $400 an hour, we offer a similar level of domain expertise at software company prices. This way, we’re able to help as many hospitals as possible weather the storm and pick up the pieces left by the pandemic. In doing so, they’ll be able to take good care of their employees and patients.