As Darwin taught us: “It is NOT the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Things will never be “normal” as you knew it. Understanding the re-opening objectives and knowing how you will be able to monitor this in your own community is critical to planning staffing and realizing when revenue will generate a profit for your practice.
As I am sure you are aware, the government recommendation (https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/) is to operate in three distinct phases in getting the country back to normal and focuses on a 14 day trending analysis of COVID-19 activity. The first step for all practices is to know where that information is published in your state or community and have a plan for checking it daily.
If you have had to lay people off, look at a three-tiered approach to bringing staff back. It will be important in the coming days to evaluate expenses and labor because this is our biggest expense in private practice. What work needs to be done to restart your practice revenue and what work may not occur for another couple of weeks? I believe dividing staff into mission critical, mission support and all hands-on deck may be a key component to controlling labor costs.
Now that you are returning to work, or at least some of the staff, what precautions with equipment and cleaning need to be taken? Have you checked with your cleaning service on using special cleaners or wiping down office equipment? In the same vein, have a plan in place for those employees who voice concerns about returning to work. What guidelines will you institute to monitor health of your employees going forward? Will you require COVID-19 testing? If so, what resources do you need to have in place and how will they be implemented? For example, you have an employee who tests positive but is asymptomatic, will you allow them to work in the office setting or should they be forced to work from home?
Preparing to review the post COVID-19 coding rules is also critical. While CMS made all these exceptions, do anticipate returning to much stricter guidelines. If you are planning to continue telehealth services, start now in vetting your current practices and does it meet with government regulations.
Monitoring your collections and having a plan for monitoring accounts is critical for success. It is more important than ever to know that contracts are paying correctly and that expected payment reports are being utilized appropriately within your practice. What performance tools can be automated to assist you in your efforts to get revenue back on track? What tools are needed to get your business back to “pre-virus” levels?
Finally, it is important to communicate with patients and set expectations about what may be different. Explain returning to office face to face visits verses scheduling with telehealth. You may want to update consents to acknowledge while you are taking precautions, there is a risk of contracting viruses. Also, use this as an opportunity to reset payment expectations. Begin true financial service estimating and counseling with an objective of either collecting amounts up front or obtaining a credit card with permission to put the balance after insurance processes.
If ACE can help with you with any coding or auditing needs, please contact us.