As the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic really shapes up, we have some advice from a couple of the organizations on the front lines in New York. We’re grateful that they were able to take some time to share their thoughts and some advice for others whose fight may just be getting started. They are great models for what you can do in a short time as you gear up in other parts of the country.
Craig Dreher, M.Sc., Chief Technology & Integration Officer at Community Care Physicians (CCP), a 420 provider group with over 72 locations in upstate New York, says he has been reminded of a quote from Col. Joshua Chamberlain prior to Gettysburg, “What we're fighting for, in the end, we're fighting for each other.”
"Regardless of where we were on this conflict, the message is a good one. I broke it down this way with adaption to our present scenario:
- Our endeaver in this work started when we joined this cause, healthcare—the task of caring for our communities—to make a positive difference.
- We all have value and something to give.
- We are all fighting for the same thing, each other. Our interests are aligned.
Here’s my advice:
- Act with honor, even if it costs you. When this is all over, you want to be on the right side of history.
- Be your brother’s keeper. This is not the time to do anything but help one another.
- Do this with great energy, as without it, bad information, fear, or other may occupy this void. This could make all the difference to someone on the other end.
- Be creative. Try a new approach to goal attainment (i.e. invoke tools for telemedicine and telemetry to care for patients.)
The situation we find ourselves in will require everyone’s full effort. This is a defining moment for us all, one where we can make great things happen. We are all in this together. We will win or lose…together. Let’s make it count."
CCP implemented a work group before they saw their first case and has moved very quickly to implement protocols across their organization to keep patients informed and move as many visits as possible to telehealth.
Leslie Baker, Executive Vice President of Operations at Allied Physicians Group, one of the largest private medical partnerships in the New York metropolitan area with more than 150 physicians in over 35 locations, shares their advice as well. “Create an internal task force—Clinical, Operations, HR, Finance. You have time to plan ahead, so you don’t have to adjust daily. Think about what your cash and patient flow would be if you lost 50 percent of your volume. Be proactive. Have a plan. And Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.”
The organization has shared their patient communications on the Adjuvant.Health site for free if anyone wants to see the framework for their communication.
We also did a short question and answer with Leslie. Here is what she had to say about how things are going.
- Have you changed hours, access, etc.? We are working slightly reduced hours in office, but offering telemedicine 8am to 10:30 pm Mon-Fri and most of the day and night on Sat and Sun.
- So you moved some visits to telemedicine? We have moved a high volume of visits to telemedicine. With most of our practices sitting in the epicenter, patients prefer not to come into any office.
- How have you communicated those changes to patients? Patients trust their doctors and need to have a voice of trust/truth communicating to them frequently. We’ve sent 2-3 communications a week since March 3 via Solutionreach newsletters with text messages telling them to check their emails for important COVID information. We’ve also posted frequently to social media sites.
- What do you think has been your biggest challenge during COVID-19? Processing ever changing information on everything from how to protect our employees, HR regulations, and carrier reimbursement changes for telehealth and trying to be strategic as our organization’s leaders in hours, not days. Making sure our patients and teams feel informed and protected.
- What has been your biggest success? I believe the same has been our biggest success. While it has been challenging, our organization rose to the occasion, making the necessary adjustments and communicating quickly.
We'll be sharing more stories from patients, providers, advocates, and other experts as we all continue to find our way through this pandemic crisis.