We are living through a once in 100-year pandemic. This has shocked our system, causing us to radically transform our operations and the care priorities. Any forward visibility of this turbulent demand will provide valuable information that we can incorporate to manage through this crisis.
We Treat Patients Like Cattle, Not Like Consumers
The implications of the pandemic are making a bad patient experience even worse. Patients are expected to wait on hold, wait in line, wait for an appointment, wait...
We line patients up, queue them up, wait for them to call us – the whole system is healthcare provider and payer centric, not consumer centric. To become more patient centric, the healthcare system needs to move from being REACTIVE to patient needs, to becoming PROACTIVE. You can’t do this unless you have projections / estimates, hey, even forecasts on what the coming patient demand and needs will be.
Use of Forecasting
The rest of the world from the retail industry, to manufacturing, to the military has had to manage complex supply chains, changing demand patterns and do all this at a competitive level – otherwise they’ll lose to the competition, have manufacturing offshored, or just plain go out of business. Healthcare has been operating differently, it has not had the same operational pressures.
Those times have changed, we see dramatically different patient demand patterns and needs because of the pandemic, and we need to be able to respond and adjust. We are also seeing increasing pressure put on operational and clinical effectiveness with Value Based Care. We are seeing that we must plan to a whole new level, be strategic, place bets, estimate and deploy resources to get ahead of the curve to address patient and population health issues early on before they become severe – an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
Forecasting in Healthcare
The visibility of short-term demand gives hospitals and other care units the ability to plan patient flows. Providing information through forecasts helps hospitals anticipate peak times, and health care providers take the necessary steps to avoid bottlenecks. Demand forecasts help to understand the need for staffing, determine which beds must be added or removed, where new hospitals and freestanding facilities should be built, and which supply lines should be introduced or removed.
Developing operational processes to incorporate these projections can have a significant impact on the consumer experience and operational performance. Having a better understanding of your demand will influence your strategic decisions, your initiatives, as well as broader planned spending.
Forecasts provide a glimpse of the future, enabling informed business decisions on the latest data and model predictions. Developing data-driven strategies requires a certain level of data-literacy in the organization as well as robust data governance, ensuring everyone is acting on a single source of truth throughout the organization.