The crisis surrounding COVID-19 is more consuming than anything our industry has faced in recent history. In response, the country is rallying behind the idea of flattening the pandemic's curve using social distancing and mandatory quarantines.
While we see extraordinary support from the federal government (Navy hospital ships and the tireless work of the Army Corps of Engineers are just two examples) and the states (transforming convention centers, closed hospitals and other vacant buildings into treatment facilities)— the lion's share of expanding capacity is still falling to the private delivery system.
To meet this need to increase capacity, health systems are leaving no stone unturned. In just the past few weeks we have seen systems stop all elective procedures, turn ambulatory surgery suites into intensive-care units, convert neonatal ICU space into adult ICU beds, expand virtual care clinics, and many other adaptations.
The purpose of these changes is to prepare for the worst-case scenario, but the associated cost to our health systems is never-before-seen decreases in revenue. Many health systems have lost half or more of their revenue in just a matter of days. If every geographic location gets hit with this as hard as New York City or Italy, we will certainly be unable to provide adequate care. Still, if we are able to lower demand for health services (by flattening the outbreak's curve) while simultaneously increasing supply (by creating additional capacity), we will be able to get through the next few months.
Nevertheless, this leaves the unfortunate reality that the very best-case scenario is that our health system suffers a financial disaster as opposed to the country suffering a medical catastrophe.
Although we're deep in crisis mode, we believe it's a necessity for healthcare leaders to start now to prepare for the post-COVID-19 era. Eventually, the country will come through this crisis and we believe that organizations that start now to prepare, while not sacrificing the current mandate to provide all the immediate care, will be better positioned.
To that end, we suggest three priorities for healthcare leaders to prepare for the post-COVID-19 landscape: