January 27, 2022 Episode 038

The Biggest Surprise at JPM 2022 Is What Wasn’t Being Discussed: COVID

For the third consecutive year, Strata Decision Technology CEO, Dan Michelson, expands on his venerable written recaps of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in a live discussion with Keith Figlioli.

The Biggest Surprise at JPM 2022 Is What Wasn’t Being Discussed: COVID

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dan Michelson has held at least three to five zoom calls per day with hospital CFOs across the country. As the industry navigated the most disruptive and uncertain times in modern history, healthcare leaders turned to Dan for his insight and advice because of the unparalleled visibility he has into the market through his company, Strata Decision Technology. Strata provides financial planning and analytics software for more than 400 health systems and 2,000 hospitals – in other words, about half the U.S. healthcare provider market.

While health leaders turn to Dan on an ongoing basis, he’s also become known for articles every January that analyze the top trends and topics discussed at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. In fact this year, Dan published two articles – one in Fortune and one in STAT News – and for the third year running, joined Keith Figlioli to dive even deeper with a discussion on the Healthcare is Hard podcast.

What surprised both Dan and Keith the most at this year’s event is the fact that COVID was not really a focus. CEOs and CFOs from some of the nation’s most prominent health systems that presented during JPM’s non-profit track barely mentioned it because it’s now become a normal part of every health system’s operating model. COVID is no longer a specific focus because it’s an intrinsic element in everything they do, and they’re prepared for it.

But Dan’s articles touched on some of the other major topics from JPM that he and Keith talk about in this episode, including:

  • Staffing. Staffing. Staffing. The headline of Dan’s article in STAT News captured the mood best: “Covid-19 is no longer the biggest issue facing hospitals. Staffing is.” Workforce issues dominated JPM this year and most presenters recognized these issues as their biggest focus and challenge. Dan and Keith discussed how health systems are thinking about staffing differently and how they’re thinking about deploying technology differently to ease staffing demands and burnout. They also discussed some of the new challenges providers are facing as the market evolves – such as competition for new talent from virtual care companies, specialty providers, payers and many others – and new strategies for training, recruiting and retention a result.
  • Top strategies for the future. With COVID becoming a normal part of operations, health systems are finally thinking about the future again with a clear eye towards strategy. In Dan’s Fortune piece, “The greatest comeback in the history of health care,” he talked about the severe financial strains health systems faced over the past two years, with volumes down 30% to 40% in the early days of the pandemic. But now that the industry has weathered the storm and proven how critical and resilient it is, the focus is the future. From what Dan heard at JPM, he sees strategies falling into five critical areas that he and Keith discussed: M&A, investing in innovation, value-based care, creating destination centers, and deploying virtual care platforms.

To hear Dan and Keith talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders.