- Results of an HFMA member survey show that the industry is still coping with the challenges of COVID-19 but has started to adapt to a post-pandemic future.
- Respondents predict volumes will rebound and revenue decreases will be mitigated, but they expect to maintain conservative approaches to spending and resource utilization for now.
- Technological advances will spur reimagined processes and workflows and a repositioned workforce, according to survey findings.
As healthcare finance professionals grapple with cutbacks triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, many foresee a turnaround in the short term.
In the latest HFMA Outlook Survey, 56.5% of respondents to a question about elective procedures said volumes at their organization would increase by up to 10% over the next six months. The quarterly survey was sent in March to a cohort of 507 HFMA members to gauge healthcare finance professionals’ views of industry trends.
The volume-related responses were more optimistic than those in the prior Outlook Survey installment, which was sent to a separate panel of HFMA members. In that poll, conducted in November 2020, a plurality (42.7%) anticipated no six-month change in volumes.
Elective procedures aren’t the only services due for a comeback. In the latest survey, 40.8% of respondents to one question said their organization’s patients have been deferring nonelective care, while 37.5% said they weren’t sure whether that had been happening.
Given the ongoing impact of volume declines, organizations have been evaluating their deployment of resources. Among respondents to one question in the latest survey, 75% said deferred care was affecting clinical staffing, while 50% cited operational staffing. Only 5.6% said resource utilization was not affected (see the exhibit below).
“One area that healthcare finance leaders learned about during the pandemic and will use going forward is the ability to be flexible in their resource planning,” said Rick Gundling, FHFMA, senior vice president of healthcare financial practices with HFMA. “Leaders know they need better future forecast accuracy while also staying flexible in response to rapid changes in the healthcare and economic environments.
“Leaders learned they could shift plans quickly and now will continue to keep those resource planning and deployment skills.”