For months, the pandemic has forced healthcare organizations to put aside long-term transformation initiatives to focus on the short-term adjustments necessary to deliver care safely and stabilize financially. While crisis-related priorities will continue to be top of mind, leaders are starting to re-prioritize long-term planning and rethink how they will transform their organizations for the future.
Recent research from Huron finds that leaders are pushing ahead with urgency to change how their organizations operate and deliver care. To propel their organizations forward, leaders' main priorities and investments will center on cost optimization, growth, care delivery and consumerism.
Taking a Holistic Approach to Cost Optimization
More than half of leaders surveyed by Huron anticipate their cost-saving measures will include revenue management, portfolio redefinition and clinical documentation improvement; 47% expect the adoption of robotic process automation and artificial intelligence to generate savings.
While leaders are aligned on the need for cost-saving measures, more transformational strategies are needed to permanently improve margins and stay ahead of competition.
To ignite long-term transformation, leaders will have to evolve typical cost reduction strategies into a data-driven cost transformation approach that re-imagines their organization's operations and care delivery strategy. This approach is what will enable organizations to reinvest in areas that further their vision and mission.
To make significant gains, leaders need technology-driven initiatives that optimize core functions such as revenue cycle and supply chain. This includes optimizing core technology to improve business systems and the use of advanced analytics to drive efficiency and decision making.
Evolving Care Delivery
Care transformation is a top concern for leaders surveyed by Huron and will be at the center of cost optimization and strategic growth strategies. Across Huron's findings, leaders identify opportunities to improve care access, build integrated care delivery models and expand virtual care.
Leaders view virtual care as a long-term growth strategy as well as an opportunity to improve care access and increase patient volume. As more consumers opt for a digital-first approach to care, the challenge now is for healthcare organizations to find the right balance of in-person and virtual care offerings.
Tweaking existing service lines is no longer a sufficient tactic to improve care. Forward-thinking leaders are moving with urgency toward integrated care delivery models that will enable organizations to provide care along a continuum from wellness to episodic care to chronic care management via a seamless delivery system.
The pandemic and consumer-driven trends have made it clear that change is needed. Consumers will continue to be smarter shoppers, seeking more transparency regarding price and quality, and organizations will need to fully embrace consumer preferences to generate loyalty, attract new customers and provide better care.
Healthcare organizations can no longer afford to limit their knowledge of their consumers to financial or clinical information. Building a system that truly works for everyone will require organizations to understand the needs and challenges of all their patient populations.
While 63% of leaders in Huron's research list social determinants of health (SDOH) and health equity initiatives as a high priority, the range of activities in support of these initiatives varies widely. To determine how SDOH and health equity initiatives fit into their overall strategies, leaders will need a better understanding of the conditions impacting their individual communities.
As healthcare organizations refocus on how to position their organizations for the future, the alignment of organizational and leader goals has never been more important. Leaders will have to engage their teams and build the buy-in needed for initiatives to succeed. Organizations that can stabilize from COVID-19 and move strategic plans forward stand the best chance of staying ahead of continued disruption and competition.
Access Huron's full market research to learn more about the current priorities of healthcare executives and how organizations are planning to thrive in the future of healthcare.