Navigating the New Normal: Healthcare Industry
In this next post for our “navigating the new normal” series, we dive into what has been called the “COVID-19 paradox” for healthcare workers.
In an interview with The Rural Monitor, Brock Slabach, the National Rural Health Association’s Senior Vice President for Member Services, describes the COVID-19 Paradox: “in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, instead of dealing with a surge we were dealing with empty hospitals and clinics. With only several exceptions, this was a phenomenon all across the country. We suddenly had to shift gears and paradoxically both continue to prepare for a surge yet assist all these rural providers hemorrhaging cash with routine work having all but stopped.”
The irony that those working hardest on the front lines of this crisis were now dealing with severe financial repercussions. According to Slabach, on average, rural hospitals have 33 days of cash on hand to keep up operations. When elective procedures go down to nearly 0, that cash flow is severely compromised.
However, there have been many rural funding allocations to infuse the healthcare system with some much-needed relief: the CARES Act earmarked $10 billion specifically for rural hospitals, and there is also the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the CMS’s Advanced Accelerated Payment Program. That represents a huge swing of fortune for many hospitals who may have otherwise been at severe risk of closing due to COVID-19. Several hospitals in the area now have nearly a full year of operating capital at their disposal.
That represents a huge swing of fortune for many hospitals who may have otherwise been at severe risk of closing due to COVID-19. Several hospitals in the area now have nearly a full year of operating capital at their disposal. The question is, how can a hospital invest these unexpected resources to ensure it is better equipped to survive in a post-COVID world?
For some hospitals, now may be the right time to make some capital investments to your systems that cash flow has required you to defer for years. The average hospital we work with has thousands of boxes of old records sitting in file rooms and rented space that are at risk for breach or exposure to elements. Worse, the information within them is useless in its current form and potentially presents a liability if kept beyond the proper retention period.
Secure Records Solutions has created document management solutions tailored specifically to healthcare providers who have not completed their EMR conversion. We take records offsite, sort and index them using our proprietary barcoding system, and destroy records that have met retention. We provide access as needed via our “scan on demand” solution. Hospitals see a return on these projects in several forms:
- Reduction of labor and real estate costs tied to managing unproductive assets – your space and people should be focused on the business of providing healthcare, not managing storage or scanning. By removing unproductive physical assets, your team can focus on managing your digital interaction with patients. After a project, our clients repurpose space to generate revenue and people to improve health outcomes, while a slimmed down HIM department focuses on protecting your EHR investment by managing new records entering the system.
- Eliminating access to hard copy records onsite improves the outcome of an EMR conversion. Hospitals can lose millions of dollars on a failed EMR conversion. That money isn’t paid directly to the software company – much of it is spent on time and resources wasted internally.
- We have found that our strategic approach reduces the cost of converting records by 80%. The largest savings is by creating a solution in which a hospital can avoid scanning records it will never need. When a hospital tasks a small army of staff with scanning every sheet of paper they have, the process takes years of payroll and ends in scanning the 95% of records that are never accessed.
Many predict that healthcare providers will see fewer patients over the next 18-24 months as many cancel or delay treatments. Furthermore, it is unknown whether we will see this type of cash infusion into our system again, so hospitals should exercise caution and prudence with their funds. Putting funds back into the system and creating efficiencies will be a good long-term choice for the life of the hospital and set them up for more success in the future while making the most of the short-term windfall.
Please contact Secure Records Solutions today if you are interested in learning more about our solutions and services.