In addition to driving COVID-19 understanding within the United States, a national disease registry is informing research beyond U.S. borders. Clinicians with the Singapore Ministry of Healthcare Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) have used Health Catalyst Touchstone® COVID-19 data to develop a machine learning tool that helps predict the likelihood of COVID-19 mortality. With this national data set that leverages deep aggregated EHR data, the MOHT accessed the research-grade data it needed to build a machine-learning algorithm that predicts risk of death from COVID-19. The registry-informed prediction model was accurate enough to stand up to comparisons in the published literature and promises to help inform vaccine research and, ultimately, allocation of vaccines within populations.
COVID-19 response and recovery is pushing healthcare to operate at an unprecedented level. To meet these demands and continue to improve outcomes and lower costs, healthcare analytics must perform more actionably and with broader organizational impact than ever. Health systems can follow four strategies to produce high-value analytics to withstand the pandemic and make healthcare better in the long term:
Outsource regulatory reporting.
Grow risk-based stratification capabilities.
Run activity-based costing plus at-risk contracting.
Comprehensive COVID-19 understanding is a critical asset for adapting to pandemic needs, directing resources, developing vaccines, and planning for surges in a timely, informed manner. Because common barriers have impeded the progress of comprehensive data repositories, researchers have relied on surveillance data from population-level viral testing, which has proven insufficient. To significantly advance COVID-19 understanding, the medical community needs a digital patient registry that captures national-level data on how the virus impacts individuals differently according to comorbidities, lifestyle factors, and more. These essential insights lie in real-world evidence, which a registry can only deliver when it applies value sets to leverage clinical and claims data from health systems across the United States.
Health systems have always faced bad debt—from charity care to insurance claim denials—and COVID-19 has exacerbated its impact on revenue. While hospitals and clinics are responsible for providing care to populations, they can still generate revenue from care delivery without compromising care accessibility or quality. An effective bad debt management approach provides the patient with every financial resource possible and allows the health systems to focus less on payment and more on delivering the best care.
With four tactics, health system leadership can identify bad debt and implement effective processes to minimize it without undue burden on patients:
Identify bad debt exposure early.
Educate patients about alternative payment options.
Leverage technology within the workflow.
Understand the true cost of care.
With COVID-19 sending health systems reeling, leaders understand the only way organizations can survive the pandemic is by driving improvement in three key areas: revenue, cost, and quality. Many traditional healthcare delivery methods, such as in-person visits, are on hold, leaving health system leaders considering how telehealth solutions allow organizations to excel in the new industry normal.
Although many health systems see telehealth as a temporary healthcare delivery solution because of COVID-19, it is here to stay. And, if health systems invest in telehealth, they will be more likely to succeed in revenue, cost, and quality, even in a pandemic.
As organizations confront a post-COVID-19 world, leaders must balance pandemic-driven practices and environments with team member eagerness to and uncertainty towards returning to business as usual. Even though ongoing fear and stress are inevitable, leaders and managers can use a positive workplace culture to support employees, engage their teams, and foster productivity. Safe, reliable access to health and wellness, remote mental health resources, and consistent communications will help organizations establish and maintain a positive culture that remains a steadfast source of support as the healthcare industry navigates the next phases of COVID-19.
With an ever-changing understanding of COVID-19 and a continually fluctuating disease impact, health systems can’t rely on a single, rigid plan to guide their response and recovery efforts. An effective solution is likely a flexible framework that steers hospitals and other providers through four critical phases of a communitywide healthcare emergency:
Prepare for an outbreak.
Recover from an outbreak.
Plan for the future.
The framework must include data-supported surveillance and containment strategies to enhance detection, reduce transmission, and manage capacity and supplies, providing a roadmap to respond to immediate demands and also support a sustainable long-term pandemic response.
With a lack of historical population-based information to steer COVID-19 research, pharmaceutical companies are struggling to understand the everchanging virus as they work tirelessly to develop a vaccine in less than one year. Research teams can access near real-time COVID-19 patient data with Touchstone® for COVID-19 National Data Sets and Registry from over 80 million patients across the United States and three national data sources: John Hopkins University, The New York Times, and The COVID Tracking Project.
The Registry offers up-to-date, comprehensive data with outcome analysis and clinical trial analysis so research teams can stay up to date through every stage of the vaccine development process.
COVID-19 is now a commanding force in healthcare, and outbreak-driven trends will continue to influence the industry and impact patients for the foreseeable future. Understanding and preparing for activity in five critical categories will help health systems navigate the next phases of the COVID-19 era:
A potential vaccine—confronting availability and distribution challenges.
Virtual care—managing the best interests of patients and providers.
Models of care—accommodating changing delivery and long-term needs of COVID-19 patients.
Healthcare resource management—planning for and recovering from financial and capacity strain.
Data—improving accuracy, availability, and timeliness for pandemic management.
The U.S. healthcare system was not prepared for a health crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are working to facilitate widespread distribution of information within their organization and to local, state, and federal authorities to successfully manage this novel infection. EHRs and Lab Information Systems (LISs) have become public health tools for disease surveillance and management.
Due to signification variation in EHR data, informatics tools are needed to define patients with suspected SARS-Cov2 Infection and confirmed COVID-19 infection. With the aim of building an extensible model for a COVID-19 database, Health Catalyst has built a detailed approach that leverages a heuristic methodology for capturing both confirmed and suspected cases.
Health Catalyst has proposed value sets that define two patient cohorts for the registry for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, stratified further into three levels of confidence: high confidence suspected, moderate confidence suspected, and low confidence suspected.
Health system resource strain became an urgent concern early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Hard-hit areas exhausted their hospital beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, staffing, and other life-saving essentials, while other regions scrambled to prepare for inevitable surges. These resource concerns heightened the need for accurate, localized hospital capacity planning. With additional waves of infection in the summer months following the initial spring 2020 crisis, health systems must continue to forecast resource demands for the foreseeable future. An accurate capacity planning tool uses population demographics, governmental policies, local culture, and the physical environment to predict healthcare resource needs and help health systems prepare for surges in patient demand.
While the world waits for a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, managing disease spread is paramount. For health systems, patient and staff contact tracing is one of the top transmission-control strategies. Because the virus appears to spread mainly through respiratory droplets from person-to-person contact, knowing where infected individuals have been and with whom they’ve been in contact is an essential capability. With this insight, organizations can manage transmission with data-driven emergency planning and monitoring capabilities. The resulting appropriate and timely workflow modifications will serve disease control efforts during the 2020 pandemic and help health systems prepare for future outbreaks.
The future of healthcare is here, with its focus on data sharing, technological pushes forward, and virtual work wherever possible. We are excited to embrace the adventure and challenge of these changes by reimagining the Healthcare Analytics Summit (HAS) 2020 as a virtual format that will be unlike any other healthcare conference you may have attended, virtual or otherwise. HAS 20 Virtual takes place September 1-3, 2020 and will feature nationally recognized keynote speakers, educational breakout sessions, and many of the unique touches you’ve come to expect from HAS.
The rapid onset of COVID-19 has strained hospital resources, including workforce management. Qualified nurses have responded to the virus and volunteered in the hardest hit areas, but many have been prohibited from helping due to cross-state nurse licensing laws that don’t allow nurses to deliver care across state lines.
As health systems continue to face current and emerging needs due to the virus—addressing required training, knowledge, and experience—state licensing laws that would allow nurses to provide care in other states is a critical part of the conversation. Cross-state licensure will not only alleviate the burden placed on health systems and its workforce during a pandemic but also help organizations prepare future unforeseen challenges.
As health systems increasingly transition to a value-based care model, the financial strains and uncertainty of COVID-19 have placed more urgency on cost management. More than ever, organizations need a costing solution that helps them understand the true value of their services. With the right next-generation activity-based costing (ABC) tool, health systems can access the detailed data they need to lower the cost of care, automate costing activities, and reduce administrative costs while preparing for the mounting intricacy of the post-pandemic setting.
Activity-based costing meets healthcare’s complex COVID-19-era costing needs by addressing four big challenges:
During the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost half of all U.S. healthcare consumers postponed routine and non-emergent care, leaving organization with significant revenue loss across all care settings. In response to the widespread financial strain on the healthcare industry, Congress has allocated $100 billion in relief funding for hospitals and other healthcare providers. But while providers clearly need the financial relief, using it (including navigating terms and conditions and eligibility) has been less straightforward. Better understanding of these relief programs and compliance requirements will help organizations confidently optimize this assistance.
As health systems have faced a drop in routine, non-emergent patient care due to the novel coronavirus, they have had to be flexible and find new methods of care delivery to ensure patient access. Telehealth—using a digital platform to conduct are remotely—benefits both patients and health systems. Although laying the groundwork for telehealth and then scaling telehealth solutions is challenging, virtual care leads to increased patient access, better patient retention, and overall reduced costs for health systems, employers, and patients. With the right tools to build a reliable framework, organizations can effectively deliver quality care to patient populations, no matter where they live.
Hospital command center leaders have never had to run an incident response on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas a typical emergency event (e.g., flooding, earthquakes, multivehicle collisions, or shootings) causes rapid patient influx with an identifiable starting and stopping point, the novel coronavirus has an ongoing, inestimable impact. The extensive duration, combined with high transmission risks and a massive scope of impact, demand that health systems prepare for complex facility, equipment, and staffing needs. Their best strategy is to leverage data-driven tools to scale their existing emergency response plans for COVID-19’s unprecedented proportions.
As Health Catalyst continues to engage its health system partners in their COVID-19 journeys through virtual client huddles, topics are delving further into restarting ambulatory care and elective procedures. The May 21, 2020, forum explored how organizations are responding to the pandemic and planning for the next phases. Participants explored two vital topics in the COVID-19 era:
How virtual care analytics supports rapid change in ambulatory care delivery.
How analytic insights help drive a COVID-19 financial recovery plan.
More than 100 attendees joined the first of a series of Health Catalyst virtual client huddles designed to support client partners and aid collaboration and direct client connections in this time of unprecedented change. According to an April 2020 survey of Health Catalyst clients, 72.6 percent said they had a strong interest in examples, guidance, and tools from other health systems. In the client-only session, insights shared included the most common COVID-19 analytic projects and one health system’s elective surgery plan.
The health system shared the challenges they faced in understanding the financial impact of halting elective surgeries as well as creating a plan for working through their backlog. They also shared the tools and strategies they are using to aid their financial recovery.
With no known end to the COVID-19 social distancing directives, many healthcare organizations are shifting some team members to remote work arrangements. Clinicians offering telehealth services, case managers, as well as administrative, financial, and IT teams and others contributing away from the frontlines of care are candidates to work from home while continuing to support their organization’s operations. Though a shift in normal processes, research has shown that remote workers can be as or more productive as they are in the office setting and often report high levels of job satisfaction. Following best practices for remote-first work will help team members, managers, and organizations transition to and thrive in a distributed setting.
Social distancing, effective hand-washing techniques, sneezing into elbows, and the like are critical means of mitigating the spread and impact of COVID-19, but the pandemic has also prompted another area of concern: cybersecurity. A growing remote workforce, more collective time online, and increasingly frequent social engineering attacks that take advantage of public curiosity about and fear of the novel coronavirus are exposing system and network vulnerabilities. Remote workers can increase their online safety by refreshing and ramping up cyber-hygiene best practices, including learning to recognize and report suspicious emails and protecting home internet connections.