In the wake of COVID-19, few healthcare providers will return to their pre-COVID clinical operating and business models. Further investment in network integrity—especially patient navigation and referral channels—will be critical to restore volumes and revenues and maintain market share in the new normal.
Providers must engage consumers and other referral sources to recapture patients. With the majority of consumers feeling uncomfortable visiting hospitals and provider offices, competition for patients is even more intense. Health systems must begin building a platform for patient reengagement, but that will not be enough. Most health systems also will need to discover new referral channels. An integrated clinical network is key to recovering patients and driving referrals.
As the need for more integrated networks continues to grow, the relationship between the physician and the health system becomes more central. A central referral office (CRO) is essential to bridge communication, process, and accountability breakdowns throughout a care network. A patient navigation hub builds upon the CRO and focuses on broader patient access activity like after-hour call support, telehealth and virtual care, and centralized scheduling for both offices and hospitals.