The impact of COVID-19 has changed many things including the face of healthcare. Financial pressure has made it essential for many independent physicians to explore new options. A report by McKinsey in May, 2020 highlighted that more than half of physicians were worried about their practices closing.

Six weeks into COVID, almost half of all independent physician practices surveyed, had less than four weeks cash on hand, making staff layoffs and business restructuring imperative for survival.

The loss in revenue is for a variety of reasons. COVID has meant a drop in office visits of 60%. Fewer visits also mean fewer referrals, and patients are delaying routine preventive visits. Many medical offices reduced the volume of non-essential care to patients and some practices closed for weeks through the COVID outbreak.

The biggest change in practice has been the push to telemedicine, though there are still some slow adopters. Independent practices need to change quickly, and the use of virtual encounters is not enough. Independent practices provide important access for communities and the closure of some of these practices means reduced availability of care.

Independent practices can pivot quickly, turning a small ship is much quicker than a big ship. While hospital systems are facing their own challenges, independent practices have a range of opportunities that provide the potential to regain lost revenues and do so quickly.

Areas of opportunity include:

  1. Increasing the level of value-based care leveraging remote patient programs that keep patients at home and monitored is an easy place to start. Many practices are currently underutilizing this service. Even those practices that perceive they are doing this well, could benefit from an audit of available services. They likely will be surprised how much they are missing out on. Adding value-based care can be easy, with no upfront costs and state of the art software that can save staff time and bring in new revenue, safely.
  2. Adding diagnostic equipment helps generate revenue. Post-COVID and at-risk patients can benefit from a thorough assessment of their autonomic nervous systems (ANS). Prediabetes and inflammatory processes have been demonstrated to result in increased morbidity associated with COVID. While the etiology of this is yet to be fully determined, patient risk can be assessed with a review of circulatory, hormonal, and nervous system function. An increase in postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) has also been found in post-COVID patients, an area where the ANS plays a significant role in maintaining homeostasis. Optimized billing is vital to ensure that this solution provides a rapid ROI for your practice.
  3. The scare of COVID is pushing patients to be more accountable for their own health, an area that has frustrated physicians for decades. Addressing obesity is at the forefront of this challenge. Insurances and Medicare cover counseling episodes for the obese. They provide another opportunity for physicians to make a difference in health outcomes with guided programs that help navigate the behavioral challenges of dealing with weight issues.
  4. With patients recuperating from COVID, regenerative medicine associated with lung repair could provide another significant opportunity. Revenues for amniotic fluid nebulizers are significant and have been shown to be beneficial in treating a range of lung diseases including COPD. Studies are still to be completed for use in COVID to fully determine its effectiveness.
  5. Technology is not just making everyday devices more portable. Medical equipment too. Portable ultrasounds were a saving grace in South Korea prior to the availability of COVID-19 testing. Lung ultrasounds are a useful methodology for differential diagnosis of COVID, assess infection duration and severity. The portability of these devices makes them a multifunctional assessment tool for use as a diagnostic tool for musculoskeletal, thyroid and guided treatments.. With proper training and reporting, portable ultrasound can provide a ready and reliable income stream with diagnostic versatility.

Working with a Practice Development Manager (PDM) means taking the guesswork out of the best programs for your practice. To find out more about programs that could work for your practice, contact your PDM.