Despite ever-growing hospitalization rates associated with COVID, health care providers and institutions are struggling to profit in today’s economy. Many hospitals and nursing facilities are seeing an influx of inpatient admissions due to respiratory illnesses and the like, but this has been countered by a drastic change in our nation’s health behaviors. The pandemic has not only led many Americans to avoid preventive care measures such as physicals and annual dental exams, but it has also led a number of individuals to put off seeking care for ongoing issues like chronic conditions. Studies are also showing that individuals are less likely to seek care for new medical concerns, as the number of overall emergency department visits has plummeted in the past year.

This has led to far less inpatient and outpatient resource utilization, totalling more than $323 billion dollars in revenue loss for health systems in 2020 alone. Though year-end figures for 2020 were showing some signs of recovery with a short-lived boost to inpatient admissions in the winter, annual totals were still far below average. This trend is continuing into 2021, and early projections expect this decline in care to persist at least through the fall.

Analysts are seeing that solo providers and private practices will continue to be among those hardest hit, while satellite clinics and subsidiaries of larger health systems can likely weather the storm. Even so, not all major health organizations are getting the funding they need. Many rural institutions were relying on assistance from the most recent COVID relief package, the CARES Act, to act as a buffer until these trends were reversed. However, a range of hospitals were overlooked, which was especially devastating for those facilities who were reporting lowering margins even before the pandemic. With more than 36 hospitals filing for bankruptcy as of November 2020, these difficulties are having a ripple effect into the insurance industry. Fewer medical institutions will inevitably lead to gaps in care and limited health care options within certain geographic areas, which can both result in sparse provider networks.

he digital health industry is ever-growing, but not even the emergency adoption of telehealth services has been enough to save independent providers such as physicians. More than 70% of doctors reported a decline in the number of virtual and on-site patient visits they provided since the start of the pandemic. It appears that the decrease in elective, hospital-based procedures has made the biggest impact on health care revenue, for organizations both small and large.

In an effort to combat the effects of the present pandemic and future public health concerns, independent physicians are vying for partnerships with large health organizations to bolster their security (and profits) in uncertain times. Insurance companies with a range of needs will feel confident building their provider network with TOG Network Solutions and the market’s best Provider Data Management system.