How to Rebuild Patient Volume During the COVID-19 Crisis
As soon as COVID-19 was determined to be causing a pandemic, and it arrived in the US shortly thereafter, medical facilities became the focus of a lot of the guidance on how to stay safe from catching the virus. “Stay home” was the message underlying most instruction given to the population.
What’s Happening to Practice Volume
Very specific protocols were set up at medical facilities and patients were asked to cancel all nonessential appointments and treatment. While this was a useful step in minimizing the amount of contact with other potentially infected patients, the reduction in the number of patients being seen has been devastating for medical practices’ revenue.
After a period of “lockdown” in which the population was told to stay home except for obtaining necessary medical care and acquiring essentials, attempts to restart the economy resulted in businesses opening back up. In most areas, non-essential treatment is now allowed, but people have already cancelled their upcoming appointments and have the sense that medical facilities are to be avoided.Where practitioners have opened their offices to serve patients, it is important to get the volume back up, so revenue matches the expenses incurred in running a practice, including paying staff.
Make Patients Feel Safe
The first thing any practice needs to do is to make sure they are doing everything they reasonably can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The next step is to communicate what’s being done to patients to help them overcome their suspicions about contagion.Because COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets expelled by an infected person, taking appointments outdoors reduces exposure. If your facility has a parking lot or courtyard where a space could be set up, that would be one way to be safer.
Telehealth options have been greatly expanded due to the coronavirus. Insurers and government payers have approved payment for many more options, and the oversight agencies have even relaxed restrictions on digital security so that use of previously excluded platforms, such as Zoom, are now allowable.The best available information about the virus has changed several times. Make sure to stay abreast of new discoveries and let your patients know you are on top of it.
How to Get Patients to Engage
Since patients and medical facilities were asked to postpone all nonessential interactions, many previously scheduled appointments were cancelled. Go back through your records and reschedule them now that you are able to. Also look for health maintenance visits that should have been scheduled over the past few months and get them back on the calendar. These would include wellness exams, diabetic check-ins, routine monitoring of chronic conditions, etc.
If automated reminders would normally be sent to remind patients to make an appointment, it would be a good idea to have one of the office staff make an in-person call so they can assure the patient that it is safe to come in and address any concerns they have. Call and schedule people who would regularly be coming
Where there is an option of doing a procedure in the hospital or an outpatient setting, opt for latter, and let the patient know that they can have it done without the potential exposure they would encounter in the hospital.
Reach Out Through Social Media and Email
Patients are exposed to an overwhelming amount of information—some legitimate and some false—and it can be difficult to distinguish which is which. As an authority on medical care, you can use social media and email to easily provide correct information and allay fears. Pay attention to the questions patients ask and comments they make. Address both with positive, understandable information. Knowing that they have correct information will make patients feel safer about getting care.
Medcare MSO is here to support the medical industry from a financial perspective. Give us a call today at 800-640-6409 to find out how we can streamline your medical billing processes and increase your bottom line.