The Impact of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry
We are undeniably in uncertain times and uncharted territories. The medical world and the world at large has been thrown into upheaval in an attempt to weather and survive the COVID19 pandemic. Arguably, no industry has been affected more so than the medical industry; even-more the musculoskeletal specialities such as orthopedics and radiology have been virtually shut down. Elective surgeries had been canceled to free up space for COVID-19 patients.
With volumes flatlined, many practices were forced to furlough or layoff staff. These cuts were often a necessity for survival and were hoped to be temporary. Fortunately, the federal and state governments stepped in and provided multiple forms of financial support. Included in that support was an increase in unemployment benefits in both length and value.
The Consequences of New Unemployment Benefits
This also was a necessity but along with it comes, as it often does with sudden change, unintended consequences. Many of the staff cuts hit the front desk and billing departments. These departments are typically staffed with very hard working professionals who are unfortunately not the highest paid members. Under the current unemployment benefit policies, an individual may potentially have the opportunity to earn more while staying at home than they did when working for their respective practice.
Evaluating Your Staffing Options
Now that restrictions on elective surgeries across the nation have eased and the country crawls back to some semblance of "new" normalcy, patient volumes are beginning to increase on an upwards trajectory towards baseline capacities. With that, employees are reopening shuttered clinics and calling back furloughed or laid off staff. What happens when your employees do not answer that call, or better yet reject the offer to come back? Think this is outlandish, it is a reality happening to private practices across the country.
This issue presents both a problem and an opportunity; a problem to be solved and an opportunity to create a better system. The problem is having enough staff and FTE to keep up with growing demand; the opportunity presented is to reevaluate the processes and staffing levels at your clinic.
Solution: Outsourcing Work
Perhaps, you were over staffed in areas, this may allow you to right size your practice. Perhaps, there are areas of your workflows that can be automated, thus, eliminating the need to fill the position. And perhaps, your staffing levels were so thin prior that the loss of any additional FTE puts your practice in a precarious position. If this is the case at your practice then you may want to evaluate your options whether it be a change in workflow, processes, or outsourcing some functions of your back office all together.
In a recent article in Becker's Orthopedic and Spine Review, HIS client Midwest Bone and Joint Institute (MBJI) and HIS COO David D'Silva (acting in his role as contracted CEO of MBJI) said of outsourcing:
"has allowed MBJI to be successful during the pandemic..." D'Silva continued, "We kept our overhead low and outsourced activities that did not make sense to keep within a practice. Areas such as marketing, legal, accounting, and billing have been outsourced for years. That resulted in our ability to easily pivot during the pandemic and simply reduce the activity for those functions through our outsourcing partners, [instead of] having to concern ourselves with furloughs or layoffs."
Let HIS Evaluate the Best Strategy for Your Practice
At HIS, we understand there are difficult decisions made every day. Whether it is redesigning more efficient workflows, recreating more effective processes, or building a more profitable revenue cycle, we strive to make those decisions easier by providing you with the insight and actionable data you need to make the correct decision and define your strategy!
We offer a variety of services, including revenue cycle management, coding education & analysis, practice management and consulting, and more, to Orthopedic and Radiology practices around the country. With four decades of real world experience, we can bring a wealth of knowledge and strategic advice to your practice. Please contact us today to learn more about all that we can do for you and your practice.