At this point in 2020, it’s not a question of IF your practice has been affected by the pandemic, but HOW.
Healthcare practices around the country have been affected in various ways and to varying degrees by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.
To get a better feel for exactly what that means, we sent out a request asking healthcare practices around the U.S. how they had been affected, what they had done to overcome the initial setback, and how they saw their industry moving forward after the pandemic has passed.
Over the next month, we’ll be publishing individual interviews with some of these healthcare professionals, but today we wanted to give a summary of all the feedback we received.
The Initial Blow
Almost every healthcare pro we talked to described a devastating initial blow to their business. As COVID-19 cases ramped up in the U.S. patient meetings and referrals dropped precipitously. This was especially harmful to solo-practitioners and non-emergency practices like Counseling, Dentistry and Physical Therapy.
Not only were patients hesitant to go to a public clinic, but some of the practices were ordered to shut down by their governing bodies, with little-to-no guidance on telehealth or other remote practice regulations.
The Learning Curve
As one could expect, the initial round of shutdowns sparked a wave of innovation and legislation designed to help practices serve their patients. Among the healthcare professionals we’ve heard from, Telehealth was almost universally touted as a saving grace for their practice, but it didn’t necessarily come easy.
Along with the new technology came a slew of industry guidelines and regulations that practitioners needed to become proficient in before practicing. Patients were also hesitant to book telehealth appointments at first.
However, practitioners were able to learn the system and patients warmed up to the new platform. Now, telehealth has become a household name and is actually a preferred method of communication for many.
Obviously, a substantial drop in appointments leads to a drop in revenue for clinics. The extent to which practices were affected varied greatly depending on specialty and location. Fortunately most of the practice owners we talked to said that they had enough money saved in cash reserves to get them through the toughest months.
A majority of practice owners were also able to utilize one of the government stimulus programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to keep their practice afloat. Although these programs were available, we heard from multiple practice owners that they had a difficult time accessing the money and had to jump through a lot of hoops to be accepted.
Going forward, most practice owners said that they planned to keep additional money in cash reserves in case a situation like this were to arise again. There is a natural ebb and flow to client referrals. And even in less extreme cases, it makes a lot of sense for healthcare practices to have cash on hand to carry them through periods with a lighter client load.
Industry Advancements and Forward-Looking Changes
When asked how their industry would change in the years following the pandemic, the most common answer was, unsurprisingly, a broader adoption of telehealth technology. There are some really incredible benefits, including access to disabled patients and the ability to expand a practice outside of its physical location.
However, there’s still some work to be done regarding telehealth regulations. According to Dr. Theresa Marko, a Physical Therapist in New York, Physical Therapists only have a temporary waiver to practice via telehealth, that is set to expire when the pandemic is over. She says that she and the American Physical Therapy Association are fiercely advocating to keep the rule in place.
On top of the increased popularity of telehealth, some of our other healthcare professionals thought that the pandemic would open people’s eyes to the importance of mental health in the workplace, and lay the groundwork for stronger partnerships between clinics and companies that provide personal care outside of the clinical setting.
As easy as it is to focus on the negative aspects of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to hear about the ways it has led to tangible advancements in the healthcare field.
Be Prepared For the Ups and Downs
At InvestRx® our goal is to educate healthcare professionals on how to reach their financial goals, and then give them the tools to get there. We do this through financial roadmapping, investing, and insurance strategy.
Has the pandemic made you second guess your financial plan? We’d love to help you find clarity and re-take control of your financial future.
Our Financial Roadmap works like a telehealth session for your money. You talk virtually to a trained financial advisor who will help you uncover and prioritize your top financial aspirations or roadblocks. Then we’ll send you a tailored plan with tangible steps to help you reach your goals.
Don’t settle for generic advice. Get a tailored financial plan today at a resident-friendly price.
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