Financial Fears Top Hospitals’ Concerns Over Their Ability to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic; Virtual Services Continue to Increase in Importance

A new survey of hospital leaders shows how concerns and priorities have shifted between April and May

Baltimore, MD – June 30, 2020 – Sage Growth Partners (SGP) today announced findings from a new survey of U.S. healthcare leaders that assesses their concerns and priorities during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was administered to 500 U.S. healthcare leaders at the end of May and follows a previous survey of healthcare leaders that was conducted in April.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across the country, the new survey found that healthcare leaders’ fears about financial health are rising, virtual care is here to stay, and patient engagement and satisfaction are top focus areas.

Download the full report here.

Key findings include:

Hospital leaders’ top concerns are revenue and financial sustainability

  • Loss of revenue from canceled services and appointments has risen to leaders’ top concern, followed by overall financial sustainability. In the April, the top two concerns were staff getting sick (No. 1) and supply chain risk (No. 2), now No. 3 and No. 4 respectively.
  • Capital budgets are expected to decrease over the next 12 months for 68% of hospitals surveyed. Interestingly, 18% of executives surveyed expect their capital budgets to increase.

Importance of virtual services continues to grow significantly

  • The large majority (85%) of hospital executives cite virtual care as a key technology solution that’s more critical now than a month ago. This far outpaces the second most important technology solution – hospital communication – cited by 52% of respondents. Supply chain automation (43%) ranked third, though it fell from 49% in the first survey.
  • Prior to COVID-19, 80% of hospitals provided less than 10% of their care virtually. However, 24 months from now, only 11% of hospital leaders predict that they will revert to pre-COVID-19 rates of virtual care.
  • When asked how the crisis is changing the way hospitals operate, 83% cited greater adoption of virtual services.
  • Only 31% use capabilities in their EMR for telehealth, whereas 48% use existing third-party software, like Zoom and Skype.

Patient engagement and satisfaction is a key focus area

  • The desire for technology solutions for patient engagement doubled (22% to 41%) in just six weeks from the April survey.
  • Post COVID-19, the majority (81%) of hospital executives will place more emphasis on attracting, retaining, and satisfying patients than on purchasing, coordinating, and affiliating with physicians and other providers.

“Over the past few months, our team has watched closely to see how COVID-19 is affecting hospital and health system leaders,” said Stephanie Kovalick, SGP’s chief strategy officer and general manager, strategy. “The pandemic has put incredible stress on these organizations, first, as we saw in our April survey, on concern over staff health and supply chain risk. Now those fears have shifted, as we’ve witnessed the pandemic stretch on and seen the healthcare delivery industry as a whole struggle with reduced non-emergency appointments and procedures. Some of these have been able to shift to virtual care models, but it remains to be seen how much organizations can adapt, and quickly, to what looks like it will be a long-term health crisis.”

Methodology

Conducted the week of May 25, the survey had 150 respondents from a broad range of executive-level roles. The majority of these respondents (81%) were from the C-suite, with CFOs representing 19% of respondents, CEOs 17%, CNOs, 13%, CMOs 12%, and CIOs 11%.