Jill Collins, CEO, Chief Strategy Officer, Audacity Health.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced healthcare organizations to rapidly adapt and change the way they operate. In today’s world, transformed by the pandemic, it is crucial for healthcare businesses to continue to evolve to meet the needs of providers and patients and stay ahead of the curve.
Healthcare companies weathered the pandemic differently based on whether they decided to pivot resources to support Covid-19 or stay focused on their primary business without wavering. Those that were able to leverage their technology to help address emerging Covid needs generated new revenue opportunities and some experienced tremendous growth.
Larger healthcare companies had to balance the losses from the decline in core businesses with Covid-related revenue operations. The companies that experienced revenue surges were able to fuel new product development or even M&A (merger and acquisition) activities. The biotech markets and funding opportunities thrived.
According to an April 2020 article, healthcare organizations that have prospered during the pandemic have shared several key traits: utilizing the resources and skills they already have, creating a product or service that is in demand, and being flexible and adaptable to change. Many public companies have outperformed forecasts and turned in strong financials and growth during 2020 and 2021. Yet some organizations continue struggling to replace the Covid revenue and increased resources that were acquired to sustain efforts like Covid testing, etc.
As the CEO and chief strategy officer of an agency that helps healthcare organizations with their brand strategies, I’ve seen firsthand how the pandemic has impacted healthcare businesses, both big and small. Here are four ways I believe healthcare businesses can ensure success:
Be agile and adaptable.
One of the major lessons our clients learned from the pandemic is that agility is critical. Companies that were able to pivot quickly to meet the needs of their customers during the crisis were the ones that survived and prospered.
For example, Color, a genetic test provider, redirected its product development efforts away from its cancer testing focus to develop a Covid-19 test. As a result, the company was able to continue serving its customers during a time when they needed support.
While your technology platform may have been developed for a specific application, being able to rapidly reconfigure and address novel clinical indications is key. New product development can be accelerated by leveraging existing technology. Furthermore, being able to quickly scale your technology to accommodate high volumes is critical to help combat future widespread healthcare crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Evaluate both short- and long-term strategies.
Many healthcare companies were basking in revenue surplus during the height of the pandemic and weren’t prepared for the post-Covid environment. They scaled up resources to support short-term needs. However, as the pandemic subsided, that infrastructure was no longer required and they needed a new plan to utilize those resources. As a result, they are now facing significant financial and resource challenges. It’s essential to set realistic forecasts and expectations so that you can adjust and tailor your business model accordingly.
For example, one health company that shifted to Covid-related efforts found much success during the pandemic, leading to the company going public and raising hundreds of millions of dollars in its 2021 IPO. Despite its success, the company had to make some tough decisions. In June 2022, the company laid off nearly 200 manufacturing employees, citing economic challenges and cuts in U.S. government funding for Covid-19 testing.
Look for timely opportunities to grow.
Healthcare businesses have traditionally used M&As to acquire new technology, products and services. Additionally, M&As can support entry into new markets or consolidate a business’s position in existing markets. Many companies with new Covid revenue streams reinvested these funds into their own product development or used them to acquire competitive or complementary technologies. Similarly, larger companies opted to purchase Covid-related technology instead of expanding internally.
Continue to invest in your branding.
When your company strategically pivots its commercial strategy, be sure your brand narrative promotes that new direction. If you’ve shifted your focus or entered a new market, it’s critical to invest in expanded marketing efforts to support that change. This could include investing in new personalized patient outreach strategies based on consumer insights or marketing automation platforms. Whatever direction you choose, make sure your marketing efforts are focused on building trust with your target audience and differentiating your business from the competition.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced healthcare organizations across the country to reevaluate their operations and make necessary changes. Those who can adapt quickly and anticipate long-term trends will be best positioned for success in today’s world.