COVID-19 and your Medical Practice
Medical practices are being challenged from every angle imaginable during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to concerns over safeguarding both staff and patients, practice owners are faced with the reality that sharp decreases in inpatient visits and procedures are making it difficult to continue operating. That means that everything both new and established doctors and practice owners knows about running a medical business has changed. This is why practice owners and physicians must be agile and adaptable as they move forward in providing care while carefully protecting revenue.
What COVID-19 Took From Medical Practices
According to one study estimating the impact of COVID-19, primary care practices could lose over $15 billion in 2020. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that roughly half of the public chose to delay medical care due to the pandemic so far in 2020.
The good news is that patients are slowly returning to medical care. Unfortunately, this slow return to normal reveals just how deep the financial damage of COVID-19 runs for the average care provider. Medical practices must also deal with the consequences of roughly half a year’s worth of postponed or neglected medical needs. That means that many of the patients they see need very attentive care with the potential for extra screenings. There may also be an increase in the need to recommend emergency or corrective procedures in cases where patients have life-threatening, chronic conditions like diabetes or cancer.
Yes, Healthcare practices are in the “catch-up” fight of their lives. Of course, none of the “catching up” can even begin to happen until health care practices have made deep investments in training staff members to create and operate safe environments for reducing the spread of COVID-19. In addition to investments in training, Medical practices are also tasked with ensuring that consistent inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) are available for staff members.
What Medical Practices Can Do to Stay in Business Amid COVID-19
No practice will thrive without a strategy for adjusting for the practical and cost-related ramification of COVID-19. What this looks like will vary based factors like size, location, and area of practice. Practice owners and physicians can prevent a drop inpatient visits by introducing telemedicine options. This replacement for in-person visits serves two functions. First, it ensures that patients are getting an opportunity to be evaluated by a medical professional. Telemedicine systems are designed to allow practitioners to provide the same one-on-one support that is given during an in-person discussion. While the diagnostic aspects of telemedicine are limited, this option serves as a valuable screening tool for moving forward with in-person visits if a matter is deemed urgent enough to require a physical evaluation.
Protecting Revenue Cycles Through Better Management
Of course, smart strategizing is not solely focused on protocols directly related to COVID-19. While practices can control very little regarding the impact of COVID-19, much can be done in terms of optimizing practice management and revenue cycles using better technology. This often means auditing the way claims are processed to create a much tighter turnaround time. It also means ensuring that invoices don’t slip through the cracks. Using smarter practice-management protocols and software effectively allows time-strapped staff members to devote more time to things like patient outreach or COVID-19 safety training. Ultimately, many practices will be driven by the “lean times” of COVID-19 to upgrade their practice-management software to an option that is simply a better fit than what they had branded “good enough” in the pre-COVID landscape.