As part of the Financial Planning and Analysis department for OSF HealthCare, Kirsten Largent and Mary Beth Brown advise the integrated health care system on financial performance and what countermeasures might need to be taken to adjust to changing financials. Like many businesses across the nation, Largent and Brown wanted a better idea of how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) might impact the organization.
“Surgery cancellations were the first indication the hospital system was headed toward seeing major declines in patient volumes, which has a direct effect on our revenues,” said Brown, director of Financial Analysis. “We needed an easy way to track activity across the Ministry to make informed financial forecasts and decisions.”
Much of this information was readily available in a variety of analytical tools, but none of it was in the same place. Financial Planning and Analysis worked with Healthcare Analytics to create the Daily Activity Summary, a one-stop-shop that shows patient volume trends at every level of care.
Daily Activity Summary
The Daily Activity Summary tracks daily volumes in key areas across the Ministry, including primary care, hospitalizations, emergency department visits and imaging. Users of the tool can compare patient activity the last 7, 30, 60 and 90 days to a previous period of the same length, as well as the same timeframe from the previous year. The summary showed an obvious trend at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You can see in the middle of March that we were still engaging in a very normal level of activity,” said Bryan Kaiser, director of Analytics and Reporting. “When the stay at home order was issued, volumes plummeted in some areas – dropping to half of what they were prior.”
This reflects the shutdown of certain services across the Ministry, as well as individuals choosing not to risk social contact with others by going to OSF OnCall Urgent Care, OSF PromptCare or the Emergency Department. But the Daily Activity Summary also shows how OSF HealthCare has responded to ensure patients still get the care they need.
“Shortly after the pandemic began impacting our organization, we start to see volumes tick up as the health care system adapted to the ‘new normal,’ and quickly ramped up digital services such as video visits, telemedicine and telemonitoring,” said Kaiser.
Putting financial plans in place
For the Financial Planning and Analysis team, this information has helped to advise the setting of staffing level targets to match changes in volume. They have also used the tool to project the impact on the health care system’s operations as well as liquidity levels.
“This gave us a head start on putting financial plans place,” said Largent, senior vice president of Financial Operations. “We needed to be prepared to enact appropriate levels of financial countermeasures.”
The Daily Activity Summary has also been beneficial in supporting the need for state and federal financial assistance. As OSF HealthCare works to re-open services across the Ministry, the tool is being transitioned to visualize the impact of bringing operations back online as well as the addition of video visits throughout the Ministry.
However, the Daily Activity Summary won’t stop with its intended purpose of monitoring COVID-19 volume trends and their influence on financial performance. This will allow the organization to easily make informed financial decisions in the future.