Mitigate the long term effects of survival mode.

The latest OIG report is about the potential long term effects of hospitals operating in survival mode during the Covid Pandemic.

Hospitals are struggling to cover operating costs, medical professionals are exhausted and some are suffering with mental health issues and cancer patients are sicker because they weren’t diagnosed timely. The disparities in health and access to healthcare have become crystal clear.

As an industry, we are in a world of hurt. Leaders should be reevaluating  Now – Near and Far strategies to mitigate the long term impact.

Now

The focus of Now should be on immediate relief for the staff most impacted and on the verge of burnout. It would be exceptionally hard to replace them.

New perks and apps might provide some temporary relief but they will not change the rate of burnout. Leaders need to listen to those suffering for how to infuse more support into the day when it’s most needed. According to leading companies, there isn’t one right way to do it. 

Three questions that I have found to be really helpful in understanding the need:
 

1/ How are you?

2/ What do you need?

3/ How can I help?
 

It sounds simple but they are questions that often don’t get asked of those in need. Themes will likely emerge from the responses.

Near

Financial professionals should be focused on the Balance Sheet rather than revenue to bridge short term deficits and to start assessing the changes needed to reset their organization post Covid.

Telehealth has clearly filled some gaps. However, underserved populations don’t have the technology needed to connect to care. 

Leaders need to be thinking about how to close the gap in the near term so that chronic conditions get diagnosed and treated timely. At the same time, the solutions should be flexible.

New federally funded projects to expand digital access will change the need as will some of the latest changes in the primary care market. Leaders should be thinking about idle resources that could be redeployed.

Far

People often talk about EPIC being epically expensive and question whether it was the best solution. It depends on who’s lens you use to evaluate the decision.

The willingness of leaders to hang their hat on an unproven technology or company is rare. As the industry consolidates, it will likely become even more rare. No one gets fired over a sure bet even if it’s not the best bet.

To avoid safe decisions, it’s time to start brainstorming about how to solve long range problems so that everyone understands the decisions and supports the strategic plan. 

Brainstorming is not about being right, it’s about generating ideas and evaluating the ideas one by one. It is important to have everyone from the engineers to the frontline workers represented to surface ideas, concerns and fears. 

I’ve written about the 3 D’s that can help facilitate this process. In short:
 

1/ Discuss: Facilitate a discussion to get all the ideas on the table. Decider types will try to cut the discussion short. Don’t let them.
 

2/ Debate: Surface the concerns and fears while vigorously evaluating each idea. The ideas that seem crazy might not be so crazy after more thought. 
 

3/ Decide: One person should make the decision on a pre-established date.