What have you done to make your medical practice more viable post COVID? The COVID-19 pandemic has presented physicians with formidable challenges – challenges that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Reopening your practice will not be a simple or quick task.
- Is your Practice still reeling from the turmoil caused by the pandemic?
- Are you struggling to get back to your pre-pandemic revenue levels?
- Does customer satisfaction seem like an overwhelming task due to the myriad of COVID-19 protocols you have had to implement?
Despite these challenges, there are steps that physician leaders and their team members can take to keep their medical practice more viable, beyond simply offering telehealth visits. You and your team can take immediate action to support and strengthen existing relationships with patients, payers and your community.
5 Tips to to Make Your Medical Practice More Viable
(1) Evaluate the Current Landscape
It’s easy to get discouraged when examining the current physician practice landscape in the wake of this public health crisis. Visit volumes are down, revenue dropped, and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away.
Although physician practices and healthcare facilities in the Jersey and Pennsylvania area have largely resumed operations after initially halting visits, elective surgeries and other services, things are far from back to normal. The American Marketing Association survey, which was released in October 2020, shows the dire consequences that this unprecedented global pandemic continues to inflict on medical practices. For instance, the survey showed 81% of physicians were providing fewer in-person patient visits than they were in February 2020. For some practices, the numbers were even more grim. More than one-third of the physicians who were surveyed indicated that in-person patient visits decreased by 50% or more.
The increase in telehealth services has certainly helped make up some of the lost revenue from in-patient visits, especially since payers are reimbursing telehealth visits at the same rates. But most practices cannot live on telehealth visits along. Clinicians and health systems must adapt to new care models, workflows and reimbursement structure.
(2) Solutions to Consider
COVID-19 has overwhelmed our lives and livelihoods but now is not the time to despair or give up. Physician practices in the tri-state area should take the following steps to improve getting every patient possible and ensure that they get every dollar they are entitled to.
(3) (Over) Communicate with Patients and the Community
You prepped your space and your team to safely open but how do you share that information with your patients and the community? Now is the perfect time to reach out with a digital media campaign. It’s not safe to just assume everyone knows the lengths to which your practice has gone to maintain a healthy environment. Go to where the people are. We have seen a significant increase in internet traffic, email usage and social media awareness. A good plan is not labor intensive but covers all the bases and should include:
- Website review and updates. Is your website updated with information regarding your telehealth services? COVID-19 safety protocols? Photos of staff using PPE? Relevant BLOG articles?
- Google AdWords Campaign. A strategically and will budgeted AdWords campaign will drive demographically targeted business to your website
- Eblast Newsletters. Brief but informative messaging that goes directly to your customers’ inboxes is cost effective and appreciated by your patients
- Social Media. Supportive campaign messaging that complements BLOGS, AdWords and Eblasts will extend your communication reach
If done correctly, reaching out to patients in a coordinated effort not only will reassure them your practice is safe but will also engage them into becoming a loyal customer.
(4) Collect All the Revenue You Can
Making sure you get paid what you are owed may seem like common sense, but it isn’t always that simple.
Has your practice kept up to date with the most recent contracts and fee schedules? Is someone continually negotiating the best rates for your practice? Are you seeing an increase in denials? Who is asking payers for explanations about charges that should be paid for but aren’t? There might be an oversight that should be addressed. Are you creating as many avenues as possible for patients to pay? Do you present those avenues to pay at the time of service? Can they schedule payments via an online portal?
- Use Preferred Methods. Patients tend to pay more quickly via their preferred communication method, such as requesting payment via text message. Data backs this up. When asked about their preferred method for receiving post-appointment communication from a healthcare provider, 64% of patients pointed to digital methods like email, text message, online portal or mobile app, according to a DocASAP survey.
- Use Easy to Understand Billing Statements. Does your billing company take a “hands on” approach and communicate with your patients? Billing statements and billing staff in house or outsourced should clearly communicate how much the patient owes and how they can pay their balance. A surprising number of patients who were late paying their medical costs say issues with or confusion over their medical bills are why they were late with healthcare payments. A new survey by Waystar asked patients why they paid their medical bills late. Thirty-seven percent thought their insurance would pay for their balance and 19% were unclear about how much they owed.
(5) Get Outside Support
Each day presents new challenges as we transition into the new normal. Our expectations, however, for exemplary customer service have not waned. Improved patient flow and easy access should be a priority for your medical practice. Updated policy and procedure manuals and new or revised customer service standards are a must to meet the demands of trusted and loyal patients.
One good thing that has resulted from the pandemic is that professional associations such as the American Medical Association (AMA), Medical Group Association (MGMA), New Jersey MGMA and the Pennsylvania MGMA now have more than a wealth of resources for your practice. Additionally, if you need help with establishing or maintaining telehealth, billing or communication programs there are quality medical professional consultants and trusted vendor partners who can support your effort in creating a viable program not just for now but for the future as well.
Have a question? At Comprehensive Physician Consulting, our seasoned experts in the fields of practice management, human resources, medical billing and coding, accounts receivable, customer experience improvement, team building, policy and procedure implementation, strategic marketing planning and digital media creation can help. Contact us for a consultation.