Modern Healthcare reports, “COVID-19 may already be putting a dent in procedure volumes.” They cited a survey that one-quarter of U.S. doctors report procedure cancellations or deferrals. Fear of contagion has caused patients to miss appointments or conduct their visits online. As a result, telemedicine visits have spiked by 50% across the country. Here’s how to keep your clinic running in a world that has shifted to the virtual visit.
Tips for Business Continuity for Healthcare Providers
Setting up virtual telemedicine visits for your patients is an important way to provide revenue to your practice while still practicing social distancing. They can help you triage symptomatic COVID-19 patients but also help you monitor patients with chronic disorders without exposing them to the virus.
The CDC recommends that medical facilities instigate telemedicine service lines if they haven’t used the technology in the past. Providers can interact with patients by phone or videoconference, and CMS now requires reimbursement of these visits at the same rate as an in-person encounter. But this is just one step that the AMA recommends healthcare practices adopt during the pandemic. They also recommend:
- Implementing new workflows to promote rapid planning and decision-making. Shifts in the virus, such as an uptick of cases, may require faster decision-making processes. The same is true for changes to infection protocols or other issues affecting your practice.
- Taking time to understand the reimbursement implications of telemedicine. The latest temporary measures eliminate the originating site requirement and expand on the types of encounters that you can bill under telehealth codes. But private carriers all vary in the amount of coverage and reimbursement, so take time to check with these payers before implementing a telemedicine service line.
- Manage changes to workflows that will impact both patients in staff, including an increase in telemedicine visits to accommodate remote patients.
- Revising financial projections if newly remote patients cause a drop in projected revenues. Make a financial contingency plan and consider alternative service lines, like telemedicine, to shore up your practice in this new economy.
- Assessing your current and future supply needs in light of an increase in remote patients, as well as the need for additional PPEs and respirators. Taking stock now, given the changing nature of our patient encounters, will help you better prepare for the future.
Understanding the next steps for your practice also requires keeping a keen eye on the latest shelter in place orders and changes to the regulatory climate. For example, two months ago, CMS issued new rules for telemedicine reimbursement that make the remote visit a potentially lucrative service line. Also, states have different rules on what is required for patient and provider protection.
Keeping your healthcare operations running these days requires workflow changes affecting every clinic, from small offices, networks, to FQHCs and large hospital systems. Organizations like UHC Solutions are on call when your healthcare provider needs assistance with long-term or permanent placement recruitment to help your practice handle volume spikes. Talk with our team to find out how we can help your clinic survive and prosper in our new normal.