We are navigating a challenging financial landscape, however, we are confident in the bold steps we’re taking to contain costs and stabilize our financial situation.
Through a series of accelerated financial improvement measures, we have been able to reduce some of the impact of cost inflation, and with the momentum of this initial success, we are continuing with a broad plan, known as “The Path Forward.” The long-term initiatives that make up The Path Forward center around improvements and efficiencies, not only financially, but in patient access and quality of care.
To develop the most effective plan for stabilization that reduces the impact on patients and communities, we completed a comprehensive review of services, expenses, facilities and programs, creating a clear and complete picture of our situation and where solutions can be found.
We are focusing on initiatives that will make the best use of talent, skill and capabilities of our healthcare workforce. We are concentrating on the processes and operational initiatives we’ve adopted to improve access to care and build upon our commitment to improving the health of our communities, while increasing revenue in fiscal year 2023.
A path of progress and momentum:
Developing a comprehensive plan to:
Protect critical services
Minimize impacts on patients
Continue to address health care workforce and access to care challenges
Further leveraging the benefits of being a Network.
As an example, we centralized our process for the contracting of temporary health care staff to leverage the power of a single Network and more efficiently assess, deploy and manage essential resources.
Improving access to care.
We continue to work at improving access to care throughout our geography and further connect our services and capabilities across locations.
We are committed to meeting the needs of our communities across Vermont and Northern New York, now and long into the future.
With these initiatives, we seek to maintain that commitment and avoid significant service cuts. Across all of our efforts, we have the potential to have an estimated $245 million or more impact on the fiscal year 2023 budget. These financial assumptions are foundational to our fiscal year 2023 budget and the work we will need to complete to achieve our modest margin targets for the year. Below are just some of the initiatives that we have underway to make this impact.
Manage patient beds, and post-acute and surgical capacity.
By doing this, we are working to:
Maximize the number of available beds and operating rooms across our Network, working to make sure that beds at one hospital are not sitting empty while another hospital is over capacity with patients.
Enable certain surgeries to be scheduled across Network hospitals that have the expertise, equipment, operating rooms and capacity for use.
Harness the benefits of connected care now that Network hospitals share a common electronic health record system.
Reduce reliance on temporary personnel.
While we are focused on continuing to develop strategies to reduce our reliance on temporary personnel, we are also continuing to work to improve recruitment and retention efforts with ongoing investments in:
Training programs for nurses and other members of the care team within the Network.
Managing the use of temporary personnel on a Network-wide basis, as opposed toby individual Network health care partners.
Efforts to increase loan forgiveness and scholarships.
Training collaborations with partners, such as The University of Vermont and the Vermont State College System.
Move toward a health care workforce with more hybrid and remote work roles.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we moved some staff into remote and hybrid roles. We will continue to explore these workforce innovations for the long term, taking advantage of opportunities to improve staff satisfaction and finding new ways to reach beyond our immediate geography to fill some roles that do not require in-person support. This focus also allows us to consolidate our real estate costs by reducing the space we need.
Improve access to care.
Access to care continues to be a challenge across our nation and is a significant issue in our communities. This is a historical issue and even prior to the pandemic our patients were experiencing unsatisfactory wait times. This challenge accelerated with the pandemic as patients delayed care for a period of time. We have and will continue to accelerate our efforts to address the backlog in delayed care through several measures, such as providing centralized scheduling, and enhancing technological solutions, like eConsults and telehealth. Many of these initiatives are now possible due to the implementation of our Network-wide electronic health record system. We will continue our efforts to improve wait times and access for our patients.
Organize and expand our Network’s pharmacy services.
Bringing our pharmacy services together under a common structure will support our ability to better meet the growing demand for outpatient pharmacy services. This includes further improving our health assistance program and mail order capacity for prescriptions with efficient centralization and more retail pharmacy space within our hospitals.
Of course, we will need to remain highly adaptable and evaluate our situation on an ongoing basis as we continue to serve amid a changing healthcare landscape.
We are taking bold steps to contain costs and stabilize our financial situation but we cannot do it alone.