The two trillion-dollar stimulus package included funding to hospitals and community health centers to promote economic stability as they continue to fight COVID-19. The package includes $100 billion to hospitals that are struggling financially and with their supply chains.
But over 24 percent of industry leaders are unsure if the package will help their organization, according to the Xtelligent survey.
The survey aimed to understand how healthcare organizations were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One hundred eighty-eight respondents from a variety of healthcare organizations including health insurance companies, hospitals, accountable care organizations, health systems, and federally qualified health centers reported how they were overcoming some of the pandemic’s most common challenges. This included personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, increased patient flow, increased demand for testing, the worried well, and payment for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
A critical part of industry’s response hinges on financial aid from the stimulus package, as this relief aid can help hospitals struggling to stay afloat after increasing cancelation of elective procedures. It also supports organizations seeing an increase in patients with COVID-19 to overcome PPE shortages.
But as the survey results indicate, many do not know how the relief package will actually impact their organization. Nearly 20 percent of respondents said they neither agreed nor disagreed that the stimulus package would help their organization, demonstrating a high level of indifference.
Only 17 percent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. Another 40 percent agreed or strongly agreed. So there was not an overwhelming sense that the stimulus package will help organizations, likely because many specific details were still ambiguous.
Yet there is some optimism. As organizations begin to receive their relief and develop plans for its use, perhaps there will be more consensus on the CARES Act’s implications.
Maintaining a healthy workforce is the top priority for all organizations, reported by 40 percent of all survey respondents. Even when breaking down the responses by organizational type, this was consistently the top priority: 35 percent of hospitals, 53 percent of primary care physician offices, and 48 percent of specialty care physician offices echoed.
So it is likely the CARES Act aid will be used to increase protections for employees including one of the biggest challenges – PPE shortages.
Organizations are leveraging a variety of strategies to overcome PPE shortages, including restricting the use of PPE to a key set of employees at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, reducing the number of patients in the hospital or clinic, restricting non-essential personnel from interacting with patients, and increasing telemedicine visits.
All of these strategies aim to minimize the number of employees who need PPE and keep patients out of the hospital or clinic unless absolutely necessary. With more robust funding to support improved protective measures, employees can feel confident returning to work safely.
Until then, it is critical that organizations continue to share best practices. If they are unsure how the federal economic relief package will aid their organization, industry leaders can learn from each other about effective COIVD-19 response strategies.
Collaboration will be crucial to keeping employees and patients safe to ultimately stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Healthcare Industry’s Response to COVID-19 survey results also highlight payer and provider preparedness for the COVID-19 outbreak, payer coverage for coronavirus testing and treatment, and strategies for overcoming common challenges to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report can be found here.