The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the incredible weaknesses that currently exist in the American public health system. While the strengths and selfless bravery of our medical and frontline workforce have also been put on display, the fact remains that our system is in dire need of an upgrade. We’re witnessing an extraordinary strain put on local, community-based hospitals and clinics as they care for as many people as possible, over and above their ‘typical’ caseload of patients who have health insurance that generally moves through the system in a relatively seamless manner. The truth is, the way the current payer system is designed, many of these community-based hospitals exist and fund basic services by providing specialized and elective procedures covered (and paid for) by insured patients. That’s simply where the money is for these hospitals and clinics and helps to cover costs for charitable care for the un or underinsured.
Building Resiliency Despite Adversity
As the pandemic escalated in 2020, many hospitals canceled or deferred specialized or elective procedures with dire budget implications. As a result, many of these community-based hospitals have suffered, been forced to lay off workers or close altogether, and therefore the basic healthcare needs of those communities have gone unmet, or have been cut back so drastically that the needs of the people who rely on them are in question – and we have all heard the stories of people driving hundreds of miles for care because the local option doesn’t exist anymore.
In my time working within the fundraising and foundation offices of community-based hospitals, I’ve found that foundations work to secure philanthropic dollars to fund not only special projects but to cover the cost of charitable care (as defined here, the portion that is not reimbursed by insurance or other payers.)
Consider a community hospital in a rural area of middle America that might have one or two people working in their foundation; they work in partnership with clinical leadership to identify program needs and then in partnership with local businesses, community organizations, and donors to raise money to ensure their community has the resources and care options it needs when it needs it. These local fundraising heroes work tirelessly to help fill the gaps in funding that exist in their particular market so people don’t have to drive hundreds of miles to a major metro to receive the care they need. The shuttering of these smaller hospitals, and the challenges these smaller foundations face with staffing, resources, and lack of technology is a quagmire.
These communities and community-based hospitals have demonstrated an enormous amount of resilience, but they need help, and they need it now. We’ve learned many lessons over the last year, and one of them is that to ensure the recovery of the hyperlocal, community-based hospitals and clinics of America, our country needs to reimagine basic public health and community health delivery as well as its funding. As it has in difficult times before, philanthropy can play an important role and Salesforce technology can support these organizations in raising the necessary funds to respond to the public health needs of their local communities. Salesforce can support community-based hospitals as they seek and receive the kind of gifts necessary, through strategic fundraising and heightened donor engagement, which will be pivotal as they weather this storm and rebound to remain providers of care for all who need it in the community.
Reimagining Hospital Foundations Through Technology
Now is the time for hospital foundations, great and small, to learn from the success of the largest academic medical centers; grateful patient engagement, corporate partnership, volunteerism, digital engagement, individual giving, and community-based partnerships are the key to building and sustaining a robust and healthy community supported at its foundation by local quality healthcare. Imagine every hospital foundation, regardless of market size powered by Salesforce; providing not only a secure and trustworthy 360 view of donors, volunteers, partners, and advocates but empowered with modern digital engagement opportunities, digital marketing, and increased fundraising efficiency from forecasting to budgeting. Salesforce can support community-based hospitals with their fundraising and marketing in a secure, transparent, and HIPPA-compliant manner. For these and so many other reasons, this is an excellent time to start having conversations centered around embracing Salesforce technology.
Using Salesforces Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs were both able to alleviate bottlenecks, improve collaboration, and ultimately raise more funds to support breakthroughs in lifesaving care.
Salesforce is aptly-positioned to stand with healthcare philanthropy leaders to lead the recovery and reimagining of community-based healthcare, as we understand the real issues these hospitals are experiencing around their fundraising, fundraising operations, marketing, and engagement. We see the opportunities ahead of us to create an engaging way for people within every community to support their local health care organizations to ensure the resilience, recovery, and reimagining of their local hospitals. Our teams work every day to try to remove friction in systems to make it easier to get resources moving to support community health.
Learn More About Sterrin Bird
Sterrin Bird is a nationally recognized leader in the nonprofit community possessing more than 25 years of experience in service to philanthropy, with particular emphasis in capital campaigning and major gifts. She currently serves as Nonprofit Industry Advisor for Salesforce supporting digital transformation for the nonprofit sector.