Healthcare’s return to “normal” after COVID-19: Is it possible?

If you take a quick look on the web or TV, you’ll see many stories about states “re-opening.” Restaurants, department stores, barbershops and many other consumer establishments want to get back to work and be “normal.” They aren’t the only ones. The healthcare industry wants to realize some type of normalcy in the future as well.

But what is “normal” following an outbreak like the coronavirus pandemic? Is there such a thing anymore? Is “normal” possible?

Mary Lou Mangan-Lamb, director of Product Consulting, looks at “normal” through the lens of healthcare analytics. In the article, she explores the reduction in surgeries caused by the pandemic and looks toward the desire of healthcare organizations to help those who now need immediate care.

If you want to discuss how to use healthcare analytics to get your organization back to normal after the pandemic, please fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.

Thank you and stay safe.

Andrea Sorensen, associate vice president, Product Consulting, MedeAnalytics

Healthcare’s return to “normal” after COVID-19: Is it possible?

By Mary Lou Mangan-Lamb

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the delay of all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in March. Then in April, CMS offered specific guidelines encouraging providers to prioritize health needs based on a three-tier system. Postponement of services could be considered for low acuity services or treatments, such as wellness visits and exercise therapy. A telehealth evaluation, possibly followed by triage to a facility, could be considered for intermediate acuity services or treatments, such as pediatric vaccinations and non-urgent symptoms consistent with COVID-19. For high acuity treatments or services such as serious symptoms in a new patient or indications of severe disease, CMS urged providers to triage to an appropriate facility.

In addition to the guidance from CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged providers and facilities to implement service delivery models such as telemedicine. This was suggested as a measure to preserve staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), beds and ventilators.

These recommendations had a profound effect on the US healthcare system. In an April article published by Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the organization estimated the US experienced a 50% reduction in surgeries. The American Hospital Association (AHA) calculated the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system at $200 billion from March until June of this year. This includes the net financial impact of COVID-19 hospitalizations ($36.6 billion), revenue losses from canceled surgeries and other services ($161.4 billion), costs associated with purchasing PPE ($2.4 billion) and the costs of other support some hospitals are providing, such as childcare, housing and transportation ($2.2 billion).

When will patients be ready to receive care?

CMS issued new guidelines on April 19 for re-opening facilities to provide non-emergent non-COVID-19 care. CMS recognized the need to restart care, including surgeries and procedures, chronic disease care and preventive care. One of the immediate challenges to the healthcare system is getting patients to return to facilities. The American College of Emergency Physicians found four in five adults report they are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from another patient or visitor if they go to an emergency room. Twenty-nine percent of adults have delayed or avoided seeking medical care due to COVID-19 concerns.

As providers determine how to get patients to return to facilities for routine disease management and preventive screenings, opportunities are ripe for the application of analytics to triage at the right time to the right setting. Data related to COVID-19 will continue to flow rapidly, but there are possibly more questions than answers now about a return to “normal.” Health systems will have to use data to identify the patients needing immediate care when facilities re-open. Will they be able to utilize predictive analytics to identify the levels of care needed? The hope is predictive analytics will be used to its highest capacity to help.

The coming months will continue to test our healthcare systems in a multitude of ways, but data will be crucial for every level of decision making and long-term success.

Please fill out the form below if you’d like to discuss how to use healthcare analytics to get your organization back to normal after the pandemic.

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With more than 17 years of progressive experience in health analytics, Mary-Lou Mangan-Lamb is a director of Product Consulting at MedeAnalytics. Her focus is platform products, which includes MedeCreate and MedeWorks. She has worked with large healthcare provider groups, health insurance companies, state Medicaid agencies and national customer accounts in key consultative roles. She has extensive consultative expertise in program management around care, disease, pharmacy and utilization.