Ask An Attorney - Physician Life Cycle
I am a provider acutely aware that the physician life cycle has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic. What strategies can physician practices employ to weather the financial storm associated with the pandemic?
In the last few years, mergers and acquisitions, value-based care, and industry consolidation has made durability of the physician practice challenging. But the COVID-19 pandemic greatly threatens it’s survival.
Since being declared a public health crisis in early 2020, the highly contagious novel coronavirus has upended operations for the entire health care industry. Hospitals had to build up staff, capacity, and essential supplies to treat the anticipated surge in infected patients. While physician practices had to cancel or postpone many procedures and services that keep people healthy and subsequently generate revenue. People have stopped seeking primary care out of fear of exposure, which has led to a loss in physician practice revenue. As a result of decreased patient volume and related revenue-generating services, physicians have suffered reduced hours, compensation, and some have been furloughed.
Experts agree that the coronavirus will not disappear soon, so it is critical that physician practices find new ways to connect with their patients while also generating revenue. The shift to telehealth systems during the pandemic has been one way for providers to keep afloat. But telehealth alone is not enough to save the industry. Other strategies physician practices can employ include: limit spending to practice enhancements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as PPE, physical barriers or partitions, or upgraded air filtration systems; institute safety measures for patients and employees; and collaborate with local community partners. Sharing resources such as PPE, staff, training and education and best practices, across a community will lessen the burden on individual practices. Also, unique legal issues will arise. Consider new legal implications in the areas of privacy, confidentiality, and employment obligations. It is important to review policies and procedures in place and consider updating them in response to the pandemic.
Physician practices are experiencing tremendous negative financial impact from the coronavirus pandemic. As coronavirus continues to evolve, practices should employ strategies now to better prepare for the uncertainties ahead. For additional information regarding new legal implications related to the pandemic, contact your attorney.
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You can view more COVID-19-related posts in our COVID-19 Resource Area here.