This is an introduction to our series on preparing to return to ‘normal’ operations after COVID-19. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

While the pandemic is not over, there are indications that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s [IHME] model that is frequently cited in the national media currently suggests that America’s peak occurred last week and that all states will experience their peaks by May 5th [projections from IHME model released on 4/20/2020]. Governments and agencies are beginning to establish policies that outline a phased approached to re-opening the economy and some have even begun to execute on those plans. There are many precautions [e.g. social distancing, testing, and contact tracing] that we must continue to follow to ensure there isn’t a resurgence of cases; however, many of our clients have started to ask themselves “How will we return to ‘normal’ operations?”

Over the past 6 weeks, hospital systems have experienced extreme financial pressures as high-margin services were cancelled and as preparation expenses mounted. Strategic planning processes were put on hold, staffing changes resulted in furloughs and reduced compensation, and in general, the operations of hospitals and outpatient clinics were disrupted. It is understandable that hospitals would want to return to normal and regain their financial footing – doing so will not be simple. CMS Administrator Seema Verma characterized the transition best, “this isn’t going to be like a light switch; it’s more like a sunrise where it’s going to be a gradual process.”

At KCG, we continue to advocate that health systems dedicate appropriate resources to maintain operations through peak COVID-19 utilization. Conversely, we feel that there are some planning considerations and topics that should be explored during this time to prepare for the return to normalcy. Over the next few weeks, we will release a multi-part series of questions and considerations ranging from short-term needs required to reboot elective surgeries, deviations from normal operations to address pent-up demand, and potential long-term implications to care delivery modalities.

As we release these discussion pieces, we ask that you share your thoughts and experiences – providing the collective best thinking to our colleagues across the healthcare industry.

Click here to read Part 1: expanding capacity to address pent-up demand.

About the Author
Weller Emmons

Weller Emmons, Consultant, joined KCG in July 2019. He is passionate about helping health systems design strategies that drive sustainable growth and streamline clinical services. Notable projects include: the redesign of an AMC’s Board and governance structures to seamlessly integrate recent and future acquisitions, and facilitation of the centralization of Pathology/Laboratory services at a growing health system.

Prior to joining KCG, Emmons was a Manager in the Strategy & Innovation Group at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), where he provided analytical insight to HCA’s competitive position across the enterprise.  In addition, Emmons advised several HCA hospitals on strategic planning processes to accelerate profitability via service line development, facility and access point expansion, potential M&A activity, and other sources of revenue generation.  In another role at HCA, Emmons served as project manager for a multi-hospital EHR implementation team.

Emmons earned an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University and a BE in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.