In a matter of weeks, practices have been thrust into a new reality that has required significant shifts in the way care is delivered and the business of health care is conducted.
The NextGen® Advisors team has reached out to healthcare leaders from ambulatory practices across the country to try to understand the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their practices, providers and patients. In today’s post and several upcoming posts, we will share some of the salient themes from these conversations.
A recurring theme that emerged throughout these conversations was the level of resilience that organizations have exhibited in the face of significant challenges and disruption posed by the pandemic.
Organizational resilience is defined as the ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper1. It is proposed that key characteristics of a resilient organization include2:
- The ability to identify emerging threats.
- Strong and supportive relationships with stakeholders
- Staff committed to working as a unified team
- Clear organizational objectives
The ability to identify emerging threats
It was evident in our conversations with leaders of healthcare organizations that they had a clear vision and realistic assessment of the overall threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a deep knowledge of the specifics of the pandemic models and projections in their own areas. All the leaders we spoke to had detailed, impressive command of the numbers of cases and the needed resources to care for them. Recurring themes were the efforts organizations had rapidly undertaken to deploy testing in the face of limited testing resources, the response to decreasing visit volumes with rapid deployment of telehealth capabilities, and the plans and workflows they implemented to create separation between patients with respiratory febrile illnesses and all other patients and staff.
Strong and supportive relationships with stakeholders
Without exception, the healthcare leaders we spoke to had made significant efforts to support and engage their important stakeholders. First and foremost, many of the steps taken by practices were directed at ensuring the continuity of high-quality care for their patients. Practices went to great lengths to communicate with patients using multiple modalities, keeping patients informed about site closures, the availability of telehealth services and many of the new visit and screening procedures necessitated by the pandemic. Much attention was also directed at maintaining staff safety and productivity, along with efforts to save as many job positions as possible in the face of declining visit volumes.
Staff committed to working as a unified team
Multidisciplinary teams were assembled in many of the organizations we spoke with. Strong communication within teams was deemed crucial with daily updates, meetings and briefings. It was clear that collaboration among nursing, providers and administrative teams yielded many of the innovative solutions that were instituted to address the challenges organizations are facing.
Clear organizational objectives
Unique clarity was evident regarding the objectives that practices were working to achieve. Combating the pandemic by offering high quality, accessible care, was a central common objective, as was ensuring the financial survival of their organizations in the face of the significant challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambulatory practices across the U.S. have demonstrated great organizational resilience by preparing for, responding and adapting to the sudden disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a further sign of resilience and hope, many of the leaders we spoke to have also begun to plan for a post-COVID era, grappling with what that will entail and how to position their organizations to thrive and prosper in this new reality.