Here to Help – A message before we get into the article
We’re offering daily campaign resources that health systems can brand and use to engage their communities. The content is open for all to use, and the services are available at no additional charge to our clients:
- A primer on data-driven strategy to engage your community, patients, and providers during COVID-19
- Schedule of content for daily release to help communities handle these quickly changing times
- Daily Content – Outlined in the content calendar, daily content is open for any health system to use and brand as needed
- Email for access at COVID19-Support@symphonyrm.com
- A guide to available tele-health options and offers
- Symptom Checker – Website embeddable tool to help people make decisions on requesting services for COVID-19
- Data & Planning Services – Dashboards to help track & predict COVID-19 volume as well as reschedule high-risk appointments
- Next Best Actions – Next Best Actions designed to help direct and manage demand in accordance with CDC guidelines
1point3acres’s real-time tracker — Visit the site for county-level detail
Hello Healthcare! “Flatten the Curve” is the rallying cry for healthcare leaders and the public to stop COVID-19’s spread. Exponential growth means populations gradually contract the illness at first, then there’s a seemingly sudden curve upwards. Flattening the curve means engaging in behaviors, like social distancing and pristine hygiene, that end this growth trend.
These suggestions limit COVID-19’s spread, but it’s still growing exponentially in the US. Whether the spread is due to the public or policy, health systems are preparing for a massive influx of patients.
Excerpt from Epidemiologist Ellie Murray’s Patient Guide for COVID-19
Demand vs Capacity – Are Health Systems Ready?
The rise in COVID-19 cases could spike capacity usage to 100%, or beyond for health systems already at 100%. Along with delays or denials of service, vulnerable patients face high risk of exposure to COVID-19 while in clinical settings. Additionally, there’s a shortage in the chemical reagent needed for COVID-19 testing, so many are getting turned away from testing.
The current crisis causes shortages in both capacity of service available and inventory of the goods needed to render service. There have been calls to cancel certain services and procedures, but this could harm patients, and some health systems resist. Whether rescheduling, canceling, or booking early, data science and Next Best Actions simplify finding the best solution for each patient.
Prioritizing Visits and Leveling Demand
Demand Forecasting Dashboard – Identify High Risk Visits & Prepare for Unplanned (Same-Day) Visits (amounts removed to protect client anonymity)
To smooth operations, deliver consistent experiences for patients, and prevent harm, health systems need to prepare for unplanned demand. Preparation entails understanding upcoming scheduled visits, estimating walk-in and unplanned traffic, and understanding the risks associated with visits. The above dashboard aids strategic decisions on handling spikes in walk-in visits and high-risk patients.
Using views like these, leaders can curtail risk by identifying the campaigns and communications needed to smooth demand risk. High volumes and high risk, for instance, may necessitate more aggressive means such as call campaigns. Other scenarios might include email or SMS campaigns to supplement or replace calls.
Precision Outreach – Reaching Those Most in Need
Dashboards and forecasts help with overall plans, but more is needed to level demand. Planning overall capacity puts an overall strategy in place, but actions and tactics need to consider individuals and their risk profiles.
Next Best Actions Weigh Thousands of Options to Determine What to Suggest for Each Person
Determining those actions for each patient across thousands or millions of patients can be daunting. A Next Best Actions approach weighs thousands of factors, including CDC recommendations, to determine next steps for the entire population. These next steps can include the outreach channels mentioned above or other interventions such as virtual visits.
Operations & Marketing’s Secret Symbiosis
This model is an example of how communications, marketing, and operations can work in concert to improve the patient experience. Political barriers often prevent this from being discussed, but effective communications are a critical part of solid operational strategy. This includes direct communications, as shown above, and overall communications to keep patients engaged.
Everyone is getting a content deluge from businesses right now, so it’s important that healthcare engagement blocks out the noise. We recommend daily content focused on adjusting to the new set of behaviors that are critical to flatten the curve. Because it’s difficult to develop new content while managing this crisis, we’ve made our content freely available.
Daily Content Calendar for COVID-19
Tracking Communications Effectiveness
A health system may have many Next Best Actions: confirm a reschedule, accept a virtual visit, etc. Light metrics such as open rates and impressions have their uses, but the best measure of effectiveness is how many Next Best Actions close.
Next Best Actions can track to strategic metrics, but NBA closure indicates whether your community is engaging in needed actions. For example, a health system that we work with identified a need to redirect high-risk patients to virtual care. They directed the message to patients with the highest need to reschedule, and approximately 2,000 accessed the info on the virtual visit.
Other conditions to close Next Best Actions may be to complete a self-assessment or come in for a certain visit. No matter the closure conditions, metrics and dashboards are updated as soon as the updated data is received.
Fighting Provider Burnout
COVID-19 has in most parts impacted operational elements of how care is delivered across the globe. We are seeing appointments being cancelled in bulk, non-emergency services deferred, and some converted to new “TeleX” mediums. The financial impact will be massive, but the impact to Provider Burnout will be worse.
Providers themselves are already dealing with the impact to their households: school closures, shelter-in-place guidelines, concern about personal exposure in the healthcare setting. Health care organizations will need to pivot their Provider Relationship Management capabilities to survey and manage the needs of their providers. With added support from the Health and Human Services HHS announcement on March 30th, “CMS is issuing a blanket waiver to allow hospitals to provide benefits and support to their medical staffs, such as multiple daily meals, laundry service for personal clothing, or child care services while the physicians and other staff are at the hospital providing patient care.”
To support Healthcare Organizations, SymphonyRM has released functionality for medical admin and provider outreach teams to directly track and report on provider needs within the SymphonyRM Provider Relationship Management (PRM). For organizations that haven’t deployed PRM, we are making a lightweight version available pre-populated with CMS NPPES Provider data sets with complimentary access for the remainder of the year. Reach out to COVID19-Support@symphonyrm.com for access to your environment.
You can see how these new capabilities capture and report on provider needs in the video below:
Demand after the Crisis
Though it’s hard to see an end to the cycle of crisis and depressing news, this is not permanent. Straddling the line between delivering a consistent experience now versus preparing for future demand is a big challenge.
Once travel restrictions and social distancing are no longer necessary, there is a mass of delayed demand to consider. With various inpatient & outpatient services being gradually available, high demand might cause delays. Next Best Actions help future-proof from these demand spikes by taking into account available capacity.
It’s important to straddle a balance between today’s challenges and being prepared for tomorrow.
What about Our Data?
We’ve made our daily content freely available, and we’re available if you have concerns about your current strategy towards COVID-19. If you’d like to discuss, let us know on our website, or send an email to COVID19-Support@symphonyrm.com.