In the News: Oct 20–27

Rite Aid Rebrands and Revamps to Remain Competitive

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights Rite Aid’s new strategy to relaunch their brand as the “store of the future.” As part of the strategy, Rite Aid plans to feature a pharmacy that looks like an Apple Genius Bar, with virtual care rooms and new products focusing on traditional and alternative remedies. Rite Aid stores will also place pharmacists “front and center” to double down on pharmacy business, as pharmacists are a major touchpoint for patients across the care continuum.

Many health systems and hospitals have begun partnering with clinics like Rite Aid, and while retail pharmacies owning primary care clinics has led to further fragmentation of services and higher utilization, new emerging strategies help close the gap. Rite Aid plans to embrace their role as pharmacists within the community and help act as a connector to doctors and nurses.

Among the key issues facing hospitals today is how to expand access and increase engagement with patients across the System of CARE. In an era of tight investment and increased consumerism, retail pharmacy clinics are one solution to accelerate access, reduce costs and attract new patients. Read the Sg2 Expert Insight Shopping for the Right Partner in Retail Health to learn more about how affiliations can help with health system channel strategy by enabling acquisition of new patients from referrals.

Nurse Staffing Model Leverages Team Member Strengths

A recent Modern Healthcare article discusses how Yale New Haven Hospital increased its intensive care capacity to add an additional 380 beds during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the need for more critical care nurses, the hospital implemented an alternate staffing model that allows nurses with varying skill levels to collaborate and provide patient-centered care.

With the closure of operating rooms and clinics, there was an opportunity to utilize ambulatory nurses to staff critical care floors. The alternate model assigns nurses a color based on their skill level and expertise. For example, nurses assigned the color red acted as primary nurses on the ICU units, while nurses assigned the color orange acted as support nurses, available to check vital signs and administer medication. The model has long-term benefits and is a new option for leadership to deploy on units that are understaffed or overwhelmed going forward.

While advanced practitioners (APs) are pivotal for a more accessible, efficient US health care system, questions remain. How can they be best deployed across the full care continuum? Approaches to unleash the untapped potential of the growing cadre of APs must quickly become a strategic priority for health systems. To learn the current state of the AP workforce and strategies to optimize deployment, as well as read case studies on successful AP programs, please read the Sg2 report Optimizing Use of Advanced Practitioners.

Medicaid Enrollment Won’t Offset Payer Mix Changes

A recent Modern Healthcare article details how, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid enrollment may be on the rise for next year, giving safety-net providers some financial respite, but that it won’t be enough to make up for the declines in health care usage or changes in payer mix.

As of October 2, 2020, 2.4 million people in the US were considered to be long-term unemployed—which means they have been out of work for 27+ weeks—and almost 5 million more people will fall into that category by the end of the year, suggesting that a large portion of the population will be eligible for Medicaid. Increased Medicaid enrollment could help safety-net providers and make up for some of the health care utilization declines earlier in the year. However, Medicaid also reimburses the least out of any payer, and as COVID-19 cases surge, health care utilization may fall again, leaving medical practices in trouble because they earn less from treating COVID-19 patients than hospitals do.

Every market has been distinctly affected by COVID-19, and the journey to recovery will be just as unique to each. Organizations must understand the impact of payer mix erosion on balance sheets to be prepared to meet the evolving needs of their communities. To help with your organization’s robust scenario planning, read the Sg2 Expert Insight COVID-19 Payer Mix Scenario Model to learn about our scenario planning tool that incorporates local economic vulnerability, the impact of furloughs on commercial enrollment, and the timing and impact of future COVID-19 resurgences on payer mix to generate highly customizable monthly outputs at the county level.

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