Staying in Business During a Pandemic
Every business has felt the effects of COVID-19. The most surprising of which is medical practices. During this time of crisis and fear, many people are putting aside essential doctor visits for fear of contracting the virus.
Here are some necessary actions to take during the current pandemic:
- Implement COVID-19 Specific Protocols
- Understand Changes in Insurance
- Stay in Communication with Patients
- Utilize Telemedicine and Remote Visit Options
- Staff Management
- Reevaluate Expenses
- Prepare for Potential Closure
Implement COVID-19 Specific Protocols
It may be tempting to continue “business as usual,” but as this isn’t a situation we’re used to, you need to consider changing some of your clinic’s operations. It is wise to create some COVID-19 specific protocols for internal situations and for handling patients. For example:
- Create a plan for the possibility of a patient or employee testing positive for COVID-19
- Adjust how you have patients wait for care
- Plan on how to evaluate COVID-19 symptomatic patients
- Create a train of communication with governmental health authorities
- Begin utilizing remote visitation options
- Minimize staff in your clinic by encouraging those that are able to work from home
- Stay abreast of insurance updates and changes
Understand Changes in Insurance
There have been some changes to many insurance policies during this pandemic in relation to COVID-19 and its potential liabilities. Stay in contact with contracted insurance companies and keep up with any changes they may have implemented. You should also reference any government-issued emergency orders as they may affect practice operations. Some changes and allowances have been made in some policies and laws in relation to liability protection during this time.
Stay in Communication with Patients
Keep your patients in the loop! It is critical to keep your patients up to date with any changes that may have arisen in your clinic’s hours or operations. Keep them informed by utilizing email and SMS messaging. Consider reaching out to them through your social media pages or paying for spots on local television or radio ads. This communication can help alleviate the stress that your patients may be feeling during this time.
Utilize Telemedicine and Remote Visit Options
Digital and remote visits have moved into the forefront of the consciousness of the medical industry. Consider utilizing this service to provide a safer environment for your patients to see you during this outbreak. Once again, it is important to check with your payors to see what their coverage is for telemedicine services, especially regarding COVID-19. Some HIPAA compliance laws have even been eased during this time to aid in the transition for many practices.
Many cities and states have issued “shelter in place” orders. Medical practices are considered essential under many of these orders, so most of your staff is likely able to continue coming to work. It may be wise to allow some employees such as accountants, marketers, or other operations staff to work from home. For staff that still come into the clinics, create safety guidelines that help them to keep themselves as safe as possible from risk of exposure. Try to beef up cleaning routines, wear masks around the office, and check employee temperatures before entering the office.
If things are tight due to fewer patients coming in, canceled appointments, or location closures, you may need to consider reevaluating your expenses. Calculate your minimum expenses needed to keep your practice going and try not to exceed them. Check with banks, landlords, or vendors to see if they can provide reasonable accommodation for your practice during this time. Stay up to date on the state of economic relief packages being provided by the government that may be applicable to your practice. Evaluate your stock of essential items and decide how much of your money needs to be allocated to keeping it all in stock. The difficult decision to temporarily lay off non-essential employees may need to be considered, as well.
Prepare for Potential Closure
One of the most important things you can do is keep yourself prepared for what may be inevitable. Evaluate if you can reduce your hours. This may help reduce some financial stress which could lead to complete closure.
Taking these actions can help keep your practice afloat. Stay connected with us here at Medical Practice Success to stay up to date with changes or for more tips on how to keep your practice a success during this difficult time.