The coronavirus pandemic has presented a host of challenges for health care providers as they have dealt with a significant downturn in their business. But now, as a vaccine is rolled out and providers prepare for the new normal of life after the pandemic, there are opportunities as well.
With analytics, hospitals can manage their capacity and talent more effectively.
One way to capitalize on these opportunities is through better use of data analytics.
As with other industries, health care providers have had to transform themselves technologically in a way that was hard to imagine before the pandemic. Whether it’s dealing with a distributed workforce, serving patients remotely, or managing their businesses more efficiently, health care providers are increasingly trying to do more with less, also known as capacity management.
Consider the widespread delays in non-emergent services. As the pandemic raged, hospitals, often under orders from state officials, put off many of these procedures to make room for COVID-19 patients.
But just because a pandemic raged didn’t mean that people didn’t continue to have gimpy knees or balky hips that needed to be replaced. If anything, the demand for these elective procedures has increased. Now, with pent-up demand for these services, how health care providers deal with influx of patients will spell success for their bottom line, or possibly create more problems.
Another issue will be talent management. Because demand will be difficult to predict, it is important to ensure that a health care provider’s talent pipeline is prepared for it. As an industry, health care has yet to recover from the employment losses brought on by the pandemic. We would expect there to be a need to ensure that the talent in this industry is optimized, especially when it comes to nurses and other front-line employees.
Preparing for these changes is where the better management of data comes in. RSM has identified four areas where data analytics can be used to drive an organization forward:
- Capacity management: Many organizations have started to conduct exercises to better evaluate their own organization. For example, the average length of stay, known as throughput, is up 11% from this time last year. The need to better manage this measure of patient care will be critical as the vaccine is rolled out and as providers look to be better stewards of their limited resources.
- Scheduling talent: We expect a return to historical patient volumes this year and into the next, though no one can predict exactly when. Data analytics can be a way to predict how much this demand will stretch a staff. Managing these resources effectively will be another crucial measure of success in the new normal.
- Attracting the right talent: Simply acquiring talent is hard enough, but that challenge is compounded by the need to get the right employee on board at the right time. That’s where the use of data analytics can help providers monitor the effectiveness of strategies related to bringing staff members on board and training them.
- Improving your culture: Organizations have long used surveys to measure employee satisfaction, but with the right approach, analytics can help providers gain a more nuanced understanding of their workforce and drive further improvements.
The coronavirus has forced significant changes upon health care providers. As the vaccine is distributed and providers prepare for life after the pandemic, how they manage this new normal with the use of analytics will be critical to their success.
James Mcglothlin, director of health care analytics at RSM US, contributed to this article.
For more information on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.