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by Tony Chen
Think back just a year ago, to February 2008. Oh, things back in the "good ole" days of 2008 were so much simpler. Consider the headlines of the day brought news such as Mitt Romney winning the Maine Caucus and Ralph Nader entering the 2008 presidential campaign. The Dow was down to 12,000 from high of 14,000, while the NASDAQ vacillated around 2,500.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, let's all step back and take a deep breath for a second. Most experts agree that in 12 to 18 months, this recession will be over. Things won't go back to normal--whatever that means--but things are going to be a whole lot better than they are now, psychologically and otherwise.
To be sure, we are in the worst economic crisis this generation has probably ever seen. Unemployment is going to be at 9 to 10 percent (and that's just the officially reported numbers. Many of us in hospital administration are in serious cost-cutting and creative-paths-to-survival mode. Layoffs, paycuts, benefit reductions--it's no less than a bloodbath. And there is an outside chance of a five to 10 year downturn, too.
In the midst of all of this, let's also not forget that this, too, shall pass. Let's not make cuts that will get in the way of our recovery and long-term viability 12 months from now.
We always love talking about "downstream revenue," right? Make sure we consider the downstream impacts of the cuts we're making now. An example of this I recently heard cited from health care intelligence company Sg2 reads as follows: "the FTE saved in the lab that delays clinical care decisions and increases length of stay does not help your cause."
To take it even further, this market is a golden opportunity for some. It's not popular to talk like this, as many folks are struggling to make ends meet. However, quietly and confidently, the savviest of individuals and organizations are doubling-down in the most promising and strategic areas. They see compelling needs and fill them in compelling ways. Let's not forget that the likes of FedEx, Microsoft, GE, HP, CNN, and many others were all started during a recession. While we won't be starting up new companies (or will we?), what opportunities exist for your hospital today?
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