This week the Nashville Health Care Council launched a new speaker series, “Health Care Brass Tacks,” in which Council board members and C-suite health care leaders discuss their unique perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic and its overall impact on the health care industry. The first installment featured Change Healthcare President and CEO Neil de Crescenzo and was moderated by Council President Hayley Hovious.
Change Healthcare is a leading independent health care technology company that provides data and analytics-driven solutions to improve clinical, financial, and patient engagement outcomes in the U.S. health care system. Headquartered in Nashville, Change Healthcare has more than 30,000 customers, both payers and providers, and 14,000 employees across the United States.
Hovious asked de Crescenzo to consider life prior to and post-coronavirus and identify what helped Change Healthcare adapt to the rapidly changing pandemic environment. de Crescenzo emphasized the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery plans to prepare, as much as possible, for unpredictable occurrences.
“Studies show most organizations don’t have robust continuity plans. In our case, having the guidelines already in place was critical. They triggered our crisis committee and enabled senior leadership to continue operating the business and deal with emergencies,” he said. “Equally important in continuity plans is ensuring decision-making is timely and disseminated as quickly and clearly as possible across the customer and employee base. We’ve been able to maintain a high level of service, even though there has been almost a surprise per day during this crisis.”
Looking ahead, Change Healthcare will rely on credible sources such as the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – specifically their Epidemic Intelligence Service – and the state public health departments for guidance on the “new normal” after coronavirus. The organization is wary of the potential for a resurgence, and its priorities include protecting employees, their families and communities; helping customers, partners and the U.S. health care system maintain stability and functionality during this period of volatility; and finally, protecting the company’s financial strength.
“Every day we come up with new, innovative solutions given the challenges, diversity and changing nature – even before COVID-19 – of the U.S. health care system,” said de Crescenzo. “There are a number of new things we’ve had to do because our customers needed them, some of which are accelerations of trends that were already underway, like increased volumes of telehealth visits. We’ve also had to create new processes for remote radiology image reading, staffing model changes, disease progression tracking and more.”
de Crescenzo anticipates the long-term impact of COVID-19, including decreased hospital volumes and increased industry volatility and consolidation, will persist well into the future. Experts are navigating how care will be accessed and delivered and how patients will maintain or improve their health after the pandemic.
“We should not underestimate the challenges people will have accessing the U.S. health care system because of the psychology around coronavirus. Unless we get a vaccine quickly, that’s likely to exist for some time. Experts are saying the number of people seeking treatment for issues such as heart attacks and medical emergencies dropped by as much as 30%, particularly in hard-hit areas like New York City. It’s unclear how quickly people will return for elective procedures and check-ups,” said de Crescenzo. “Another important element is the degree of volatility. The health care providers we’re working with, particularly in rural America, are attempting to optimize staffing and capacity. We’re going to see a lot more volatility in the years ahead, and the organizations that are resilient enough to deal with that volatility are going to be more successful.”
In response to an audience question about industry consolidation, de Crescenzo said it is inevitable. “We now have anywhere from 14% to 16% unemployment in this country. The industry has been consolidating for years as we use data and connectivity to knit together different areas of care delivery, but consolidation will accelerate during this crisis. This is not just a health care crisis but also a financial crisis.”
To conclude, Hovious asked de Crescenzo to share advice for health care leaders, specifically regarding company culture and morale. de Crescenzo warned that work-from-home weariness is growing and encouraged connectivity among employees.
“At Change Healthcare, we communicate often across the company in an open and transparent fashion. We share joking videos about things we’re doing at home or with colleagues and try to make light of some of the challenges we’re all facing. We just finished a company-wide survey soliciting feedback from employees about how we’re doing and what we can do better moving forward,” said de Crescenzo. “It’s important to recognize the ‘new normal’ is not going back to the way we worked before. It will be different. Organizations need to be proactive and put plans in place now to determine how their environment will change and how they can support employees.”
Over the past two weeks Change Healthcare has made a series of announcements that will continue to make a real impact on the U.S. health care system, especially at this critical time. Earlier this week Change Healthcare introduced Market Insights: COVID-19 Analytic Data Sets, an online research environment that combines leading data science tools with comprehensive de-identified claims data that will enable real insights and understanding into the progression of the disease, the efficacy of treatments, and impacts on the health care system.
Last week the Company announced it is making its Connected Consumer Health™ Interoperability APIs available at no charge to help health plans quickly achieve compliance with the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule, and also announced the acquisition of eRx Network, a leading provider of comprehensive, innovative, and secure data-driven solutions that help pharmacies improve operational efficiency and optimize reimbursement, enabling providers to cost-effectively exchange electronic prescriptions with pharmacies.
The Nashville Health Care Council’s “Health Care Brass Tacks” series will continue with Stu Clark, CEO of Premise Health on Tuesday, June 2, at 11:30 a.m. Register, see event details and learn more about the Brass Tacks series here. Watch for more information on upcoming programs at healthcarecouncil.com.