How the Pandemic Will Shape the Next Wave of Healthtech Innovation

Leaders from Strata Decision Technology and CareAdvisors share the trends that have been exacerbated by Covid-19.
Written by Colin Hanner
October 15, 2021Updated: October 15, 2021

The shortcomings of the global supply chain, affordable housing and wage growth weren’t born out of the pandemic, but they sure were further exposed by it. 

For the healthcare industry, it was no different. Unequal access, bureaucratic red tape and a lack of dynamic technological systems have been persistent in the industry for years. Covid-19 served as a stark reminder that healthcare, like many industries, needs to adapt. 

“The greatest change for our business did not solely originate from technology or telemedicine, but rather the health disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic,” Chris Gay, CEO of CareAdvisors, a minority-owned platform that helps remove inequities in social care, told Built In Chicago. 

Claire Nguyen, product operations and analytics manager at Strata Decision Technology, a cloud-based financial planning, analytics and performance platform for the healthcare industry, agrees. Dynamic planning and timely data access were characteristic of some hospitals prior to the pandemic, but with the hard and fast disruption of the past year and a half, the need to adapt both across the board is becoming even more apparent. 

And those aren’t the only changes these leaders are predicting. In interviews with Nguyen and Gay, they share the healthtech trends they’re seeing accelerated by the pandemic. Both companies adapted their businesses when the pandemic hit, and, looking toward the future, they’re shaping their company’s roadmaps to stay ahead of challenges before they occur. 

 

Claire Nguyen
Product Operations and Analytics Manager // Strata Decision Technology

 

What changed for your business and industry in 2020, and how much of that was driven by the global pandemic and the impacts that had on consumer behavior?

Due to the complexity and pervasiveness of the Covid-19 virus, hospitals faced many unforeseen financial challenges. First, many hospitals experienced negative margins in 2020 due to increased costs in labor, supplies, drugs and medical equipment. The deferral of elective inpatient procedures to make room for Covid-19 patients further reduced revenue and exacerbated hospitals’ margin loss. Second, the pandemic introduced much higher uncertainty and volatility in patient volumes that complicated hospitals’ financial planning process. 

These challenges have accelerated a few key trends in the healthcare industry. In response to the rising costs of providing care, hospitals faced increased pressure to identify cost-saving opportunities and thus demanded more timely data insights to better understand and manage cost. In addition, due to higher uncertainty, hospitals also needed to shift from a traditional budgeting process to rolling forecasting and dynamic planning in order to become more agile and adapt to change faster.

 

How did you adapt your product to address these shifting trends? 

In 2020, Strata had a full roadmap to innovate our product and support hospitals with the right data and toolsets to analyze cost, plan dynamically and manage performance. In addition to enhancing current solutions, we also built two new modules, Advanced Analytics and RealTime Workforce Management, to help clients navigate the emerging challenges presented by the global pandemic. 

Advanced Analytics is a modern reporting tool to help hospitals build advanced visualizations and analytics to enhance decision-making. Our tool centralizes data from various fragmented sources within the hospitals, allowing department managers to build accurate and comprehensive reports and dashboards. With timely and accessible data insights, hospitals can stay on top of costs and make prompt decisions to better allocate their resources. RealTime Workforce Management helps hospitals manage labor expenses and productivity using real or near real-time payroll and attendance data. This tool will be a great asset to hospitals, especially during Covid-19, because it enables them to identify overstaffed or understaffed units and adjust staffing in real-time to optimize efficiency and maintain staff morale.
 

These trends are likely here to stay well beyond the pandemic, as hospitals strive to become more data-driven and adaptable to change.”


Looking ahead, what lasting effects do you think the pandemic will have on your business and industry? And how do you plan to be part of this next wave of healthtech innovation?

The global pandemic has accelerated many trends in the healthcare industry, such as the shift toward dynamic planning and the increasing importance of timely data access for decision-making at hospitals. These trends are likely here to stay well beyond the pandemic, as hospitals strive to become more data-driven and adaptable. 

Strata is well-equipped to lead the way as we have always innovated with clients as development partners. In order to support business growth and future innovation, we have made significant investments to modernize our tech stack, such as adopting more cloud-based technologies and microservices, to ensure scalability and agility. These technologies will not only allow us to improve our product quickly based on clients’ needs but also open new avenues such as predictive analytics powered by machine learning to allow hospitals to better forecast, identify recommended saving opportunities and stay ahead of future challenges.

 

 

 

Chris Gay

 

What changed for your business and industry in 2020, and how much of that was driven by the global pandemic and the impacts that had on consumer behavior?

The greatest change for our business did not solely originate from technology or telemedicine, but rather the health disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic. At CareAdvisors, we are focused on health equity and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. Due to the extreme health disparities that occurred as a result of the pandemic, health equity became a priority for hospitals, health plans, and state and federal governments. This change was refreshing for the healthcare industry, as it opened up significant new opportunities and options to address health disparities.

 

How did you adapt your product to address these shifting trends? 

Prior to the pandemic, our platform focused primarily on access to government benefits in line with the needs of hospitals, health plans, community-based organizations and the community members we work with. Once the pandemic occurred, we had to expand the platform to more broadly address the health disparities and social needs of communities across the country. This included incorporating a full social care network of housing providers, food pantries, caregiver support outside of the hospital and 18 other organizations. Additionally, we created a new payment model for value-based social care to support clinically integrated social care management. 

CareAdvisors also developed one of the largest health and social service data exchanges in the country. This provided an equitable exchange of data to address health disparities among safety-net healthcare organizations.
 

Due to the extreme health disparities that occurred as a result of the pandemic, health equity became a priority.”


Looking ahead, what lasting effects do you think the pandemic will have on your business and industry? And how do you plan to be part of this next wave of healthtech innovation?

In the social care management industry, we have seen significant consolidation between organizations, like CareAdvisors, that have significantly expanded their footprint in the service suite that they offer by successfully adapting to the demands of the market as a result of the pandemic. I believe this is an important benchmark in the space. Our goal is to stay focused on addressing health disparities by developing innovative partnerships and care models that will provide the biggest impact on the health of families and communities that we serve throughout the nation.

 

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