By Joe Benardello, co-founder, chief strategy and marketing officer, IKS Health.
Ambulatory care organizations throughout the United States are facing a new reality in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Practice managers must face declining visit volumes, up to 70 percent in many instances, while simultaneously predicting and planning for pent up demand.
More than half of primary care organizations have had to furlough a substantial percentage of their staff and are posing the question of whether or not those employees will be willing or able to return if and when there is a need. With more questions than answers, how do practice managers make strategic decisions for the immediate and long-term health and stability of their organizations? Here are four considerations for leaders in this position.
Identify Where Work Must Happen and Contract for Variable Cost Support
By asking ourselves, what is that work that only doctors can do, ask the same of nurses, and ask the same of front office teams, we can streamline our organizational efficiencies. By job function, identifying which critical tasks each role must complete then enables us to look at where these jobs best sit by both job title and location.
From there, when work is not tied to a specific space, how do you keep the cost as low as possible and make that cost variable while ensuring business continuity and increased performance. Now that organizations have had to embrace a wider work from home policy, can you reduce hard costs like rent and utilities in administrative offices by retaining a remote team or vendor partner.
This can also enable you to variablize your overhead as you can more quickly scale up and down in response to the predicted waves or economic contractions that may occur in the months ahead. For organizations that have already downsized, finding a partner might allow you to reduce cost without bringing staff back on. This allows you to ensure the same standard of care while finding other avenues you can potentially reduce costs in the immediate crisis and permanently as visit volumes resume.