A report recently released by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) provides insight into the mindset around the financial impact COVID-19 will likely have on group practice stability. The study, conducted in early April, consisted of over 700 respondents who are part of independent medical practices.
COVID-19 and Medical Group Stability
According to the MGMA’s findings, medical groups are very nervous about the financial impacts of COVID-19 on their business’ stability. 97% of respondents are already experiencing “a negative financial impact directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.” Many practices worry about the sharp decrease they’ve seen in their patient volume. One gastroenterology practice surveyed reports that “Our endoscopy procedures have dropped from 300/week to 8/week.” On average, respondents have seen a 60% decease in patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Patients are skipping necessary preventive and acute care out of fear of being exposed to the virus, leading in part to the decrease in volume that many practices are seeing.
The report also states that a large number of independent practices have furloughed or laid off staff due to immediate and long-term financial instability related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many who have not yet taken these steps are, according to MGMA, are considering doing so if the current situation does not begin to take an upward turn in the next 30 days. Many physicians have opted for a pay cut – around 50% on average – in order to continue to pay staff.
Aside from the patient volume decrease, some practices report seeing a large increase in their expenses related to COVID-19. PPE demand has increased exponentially with procedure masks now $1 or more per mask. Practices also report using a significantly larger quantity of masks than they did before. With the demand for telehealth and remote staff, practices are investing in technology to meet those needs – a new cost for most practices. MGMA finds that practices report, on average, around a 55% decrease in revenue since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about how independent medical practices are operating during the pandemic and their mindset about the future of their business, read the full report released by MGMA here.
Be Proactive During COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it causes, there are steps that practices can take to offset the negative impact. Many practices, as mentioned above, have seen a decrease in patient volume. They also find themselves adding the cost of telehealth solutions to their expenses. During an uncertain time, it can feel like the wrong choice for practices to make.
However, Telehealth is quickly proving to be one of the top ways to keep revenue flowing into your practice. With recent changes to regulations, it is easier than ever to continue to see patients without them coming into your office. eMDs advises our customers to use a HIPAA-compliant, secure telehealth technology to protect your practice and patients from security risks. Telehealth can be used to screen COVID patients, see otherwise sick patients, or check in on chronic care patients. Telehealth is a sound investment as it can serve your practice beyond the pandemic.
Another way to be proactive is to revisit your revenue cycle best practices. There are things that you might have ignored due to a lack of time that can help you increase your revenue flow. Does your practice check eligibility at time of booking? Do you submit your bills daily? You can also work down your denials or focus on collecting old AR over 120+ days. Part of being proactive to help your practice is getting back to basics and working on things that may have fallen to the wayside.
What practices have reported seeing, according to the study, can be stressful. However, it is important to be proactive during this time. Doing so now can not only lessen the strain your practice is feeling during the pandemic, but it can put you in a better place as business shifts into the new normal.