2020: A Year in Review and Looking Ahead into 2021

by Brian Hall

With 2021 underway and spring just ahead, this is the perfect time to reflect on 2020 and start looking forward. There is a tremendous future ahead of us.

Due to the unfortunate circumstances in 2020, the beginning of 2021 has a greater significance for most of us, and undoubtedly so for PRL. The impact of Covid-19 spanned from the personal to the professional. Many people lost loved ones and businesses failed across the US. Although the crisis is still ongoing, there are clearly better days ahead of us. The adversity of 2020 brought us closer together, even though we are not physically present. Unity has emerged in ways never thought possible.

With unity comes strength– in families, in communities, and at PRL. It has been a reminder that by working together and collaborating, it is possible to achieve great things. In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “We cannot be separated in interests or divided in purpose. We must stand together.”

2020 ended with the first Covid-19 vaccine being administered in the US. Michelle Chester, a physician, inoculated Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse in New York City. They are both Black women. They are both heroes, signifying a new future that is safer and more promising than years past. In 2020, the pandemic coincided with the demand for racial justice and equality in our society. Both impacted the nation at a devastating level. While it was a challenging year, crises are often followed by impactful change, with the opportunity to improve as individuals and as businesses. In particular, the challenges faced in 2020 solidified PRL’s values and confirmed its ethical and moral responsibility to our family and community. The PRL team demonstrated remarkable resilience and grit, making PRL an organization poised for even greater success.

PRL is moving into the new year with strength. Its talented team has a mission, vision, and strong values. Early in 2020, PRL was poised for tremendous growth and success. The business had just signed its largest client ever and was in discussion with several other substantial entities. Overall, goals for 2020 were both ambitious and attainable. PRL was anticipating a record year of growth. But despite planning and investment, no one could imagine what was about to transpire.

Looking to the future, it seems that the world is more willing to have candid conversations and collaborate to solve problems. Although the pandemic closed doors for many businesses, it created opportunities for others, including PRL. This business is capable of managing the impact of a worldwide crisis while protecting its family and incredibly loyal customers. When the pandemic arrived in the US in March 2020, PRL’s foremost priority was to protect its people. Other companies were laying off employees and reducing benefits, but PRL stayed focused on keeping everyone whole and safe. With a full lockdown looming, the leadership team decided to migrate to a fully remote environment, and our IT team swiftly delivered.

PRL approached the Covid-19 crisis with compassion and empathy. Its team was going to need substantial support, both personally and professionally. From homeschooling to limited healthcare access to lost jobs, the challenges were significant. PRL leadership quickly decided to ensure that the team had flexible hours and the support they needed to both cares for family and be productive at work.

Despite financial uncertainty, PRL committed to providing unconditional support to staff and customers. Its dedicated leadership team accepted temporary pay reductions while considering several financial models that would allow for weathering this crisis long term. Communication improved both internally and externally, with a focus on transparency. In addition to taking care of its employees, PRL wanted to ensure that customers had the support and resources they needed to survive.

So, customers were offered flexible payment options and discounts. More resources were allocated to claims follow-up and denial management. This helped PRL clients secure as much revenue as possible. Furthermore, customer panels were established to solicit feedback and identify areas where PRL could help. As always, this business strives to be the best partner possible. Patient responsibility was a priority with PRL’s PPX offering, and operations became more centered on customers. PRL also built a new strategic partnership with Access Healthcare. Affordable options were offered to patients, and the PPX solution was rolled out.

Even throughout the pandemic, PRL maintained efforts to expand and grow.  

More talented people were recruited and hired, while technology and the resources evolved to help the existing team adapt. These strategies secured continuing success. PRL expanded the PTO and benefits for its team. This included creating more volunteer initiatives and starting conversations on mental and personal health. Most importantly, PRL focused deeply on increasing diversity and inclusion in the organization. In its 35 years of existence, PRL could never have anticipated the scale of disruption brought on by Covid-19. This pandemic tested the grit of PRL’s organization and its people. But everyone got through it together, and it is now time to reflect on a year of tremendous resilience. The PRL team has embraced this new reality.

PRL will undoubtedly be a leader in RCM for years to come. The company’s financial health is key to its success and ability to support employees and customers. Finances are being actively managed and there is a clear understanding of what the future looks like. 2020 may have had a substantial impact on PRL’s financial situation, but the company is moving forward well-positioned and optimistic.

Still, 2021 will likely bring significant challenges. There is a stay on elective surgery in many states. Both health and financial risks mean patients are reluctant to seek medical care. Payers are experiencing unexpected and significant delays in claims processing, while clients struggle with staffing shortages.

In the interest of transparency, these hardships have resulted in over a 20% reduction in revenue. It may be more than expected, but it is not anything PRL can’t handle. Q1 is always tough, but the outlook for 2021 is solid. Profitability should return by Q3, and with additional planned growth, PRL is expecting a record 2021.

PRL has always believed that the greatest investment a company can make is in its people, and 2020 only confirmed that. In the business world, interpersonal experiences must be transformational. Every change implemented must mutually benefit employees and customers. It must inspire and drive meaningful results.

The impact of Covid-19 will be felt for many years. It changed so many lives, impacting the economy and healthcare industry like no other crisis. Clearly, resiliency is critical to success.  New challenges and tremendous opportunities lie ahead. They are a chance to make a lasting impact on the healthcare industry and the community.

PRL will succeed because it is equipped with the right people with the right mindset, who are always ready to make a meaningful difference in the healthcare community.