Harnessing digital to navigate turbulent financial headwinds


Many health systems are facing enormous financial pressures, with macroeconomic forces like rising labor costs and record-high inflation causing major upheaval in the cost structure of the industry.

While many health systems have already responded by cutting costs and rethinking long-term strategic investments, weathering this challenging economic climate requires something more: a new approach to digital that taps into its often-overlooked potential for rapid adoption and immediate value.

The time is now. By tapping into digital to drive both short-term and long-term impact, health systems have an opportunity to not just create the breathing room they need to regroup and succeed in the new normal, but emerge from a challenging economic environment stronger than ever.

Clearing the log jam

In our recent webinar Need for speed: Navigating financial headwinds with digital, Sonia Singh, SVP of Insights and leader of AVIA’s Center for Consumerism, and Peter Bresler, SVP of Enterprise Digital Performance, highlighted how workforce availability and high inflation have combined with existing challenges like staff burnout and sicker patient populations to create a “perfect storm” that has drawn attention away from other critical priorities.

“Financial issues are creating a log jam for many other health system efforts, whether those efforts are continued growth, defensive moves against competitive changes, or innovation projects,” says Singh. “The financial issues have taken center stage for management attention.”

That’s a major problem for health systems. Although responding to the immediate financial headwinds is important, a healthy balance between short-term response and purposeful strategic actions is the key to long-term growth and stability. What’s more, this is not a crisis that can be solved solely through cost-cutting—and the repercussions for attempting to do so will be severe.

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Creating breathing room for a new cost model

For health systems to get back on track, they first need to relieve the pressure of their immediate financial concerns. The key lies in carefully targeted rapid interventions that can deliver clear, measurable, and immediate value—and that’s where digital can, and must, play a major role.

In the webinar, we explored an in-depth analysis of digital opportunities for navigating financial headwinds, uncovering several key areas where health systems could begin reaping the financial benefits of digital in a matter of weeks, instead of months or years, as well as a model for estimating its real-dollar financial impact. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will meet the needs of every health system, a series of smaller, rapid digital interventions tailored to the specific needs of each health system is the key to creating much-needed financial breathing room.

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Health systems will need to act fast to get the full benefit of rapid digital interventions, while still balancing the needs of overall quality, reputation, and staff satisfaction. That may be a cause for some concern, since a recent AVIA poll found that just 10% of respondents were confident in their organization’s ability to move quickly and decisively on digital initiatives that could provide financial relief. Fortunately, there’s ample evidence that health systems can rise to the challenge. During the early days of the pandemic, our industry acted quickly, decisively, and collaboratively to react to rapid and far-reaching changes. While today’s crisis is different, a similar leadership and organizational mindset will be needed.

Most health systems already understand some of the value of digital, but few understand its full potential, especially when it comes to targeting immediate needs like relieving the strain of workforce challenges and core financial performance. But by reactivating the mindset needed for rapid, decisive change and rethinking the short-term potential of digital, health systems can do more than just weather the current financial headwinds. They can emerge more durable, efficient, and innovative than before.

Watch our webinar on reacting to financial headwinds today for key insights on the financial benefits of digital from AVIA. If you’re ready to learn how digital solutions can deliver critical short-term impact at your health system, contact us.