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15 May 2020

Healthcare Under Siege: Re-evaluating 2020 Trends in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

In recent years, healthcare organizations across the country have relied on consulting professionals to help them meet the demands of healthcare consumerism and digital transformation, while also saving resources. The result was steady growth—just under 5% annually—between 2014 and 2019. This positive outlook was evident in expert predictions for healthcare consulting in 2020 … then the novel corona virus appeared. How will combating COVID-19 change demand for competitive intelligence and other consulting services?

Recuperating from the COVID-19 crisis

Competitors simply aren’t a top-of-mind concern right now, in fact, COVID-19 has inspired a détente among competing healthcare systems. An article published by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, notes that “U.S. hospitals are cooperating in unprecedented ways. In addition to postponing elective surgeries and other procedures, they are transferring children from adult hospitals to pediatric hospitals and sharing staff, equipment and supplies.”

But this pivot to address the corona virus crisis comes at a high cost. A recent American Hospital Association report says that U.S. hospitals are currently losing an estimated $50 billion a month through a combination of higher spending on COVID-19 patient care, including additional PPE supplies and staffing to meet surges in demand, and lost revenue from cancelled elective surgeries and postponed medical care. On top of that, some of the hardest hit hospitals are paying for housing for front-line personnel to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to their families.

Healthcare consulting will certainly feel the financial fallout in the short term, but consulting expertise will be needed in the long run as providers along the entire healthcare continuum re-evaluate their readiness for the pandemic and look for ways to optimize operations in view of the financial losses they’ve experienced.

Virtual visits go mainstream

In our own 2020 Healthcare Consulting Trend Report, we noted that healthcare providers would feel increased pressure to provide convenient access to care because healthcare consumers expect on-demand service. Until now, telehealth and video consults had grown slowly, due in part to the fact that public and private health insurers didn’t reimburse virtual visits at the same rates used for in-person visits.

During a recent episode of The Big Unlock podcast, however, John Kravitz of Geisinger Health revealed that telehealth visits across the Pennsylvania-based health system increased 500% within the first few weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. Will consumers still embrace virtual visits after COVID-19 is contained?

Joe Harpaz, president, and COO at health IT company Modernizing Medicine, thinks it’s likely. Writing in Forbes, he notes, “For now, telehealth is playing a big role during the COVID-19 crisis. Adoption by both patients and healthcare professionals will help lay the groundwork to secure its place in the future of the care continuum.” Harpaz also cites a survey that found that while only 25% of respondents had used telehealth before the pandemic, 59% say they’re more likely to use it now and 33% would switch providers to have the option of virtual visits.

Research for consultants can help

No industry will be untouched by COVID-19, but healthcare consultants will still find opportunities when we get to the other side of the coronavirus curve. There could be a burst of merger or acquisition activity as hospitals try to shore up shaky finances and investors look for bargains. The chaos witnessed with the first surge of COVID-19 certainly points to a future need for consulting services to address operational and management challenges. And the astronomical growth of virtual visits suggests that demand for consulting that furthers digital transformation should rebound quickly. Do you have the tools you need to keep up with the latest news, emerging trends, and other competitive intelligence your clients will need on the other side of this crisis?

Next Steps:

  1. Download our Healthcare Consulting Trend Report to read about other trends that will continue to impact your business in 2020.
  2. Explore the benefits of using Nexis® for Consultants with a trial or demo.

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