The effects of COVID-19 have been widespread, devastating, and extremely rapid across the global economy. One of the most affected segments is healthcare. While acute care facilities (hospitals, skilled nursing, etc.) are required to deal with tremendous volume, despite lack of staffing and resources, the remainder of the healthcare spectrum, namely non-acute care providers, are often dealing with the exact opposite – partial or complete disruption of their business. For non-acute care providers, such as physicians, dentists, rehabilitation experts, and many others, the question is, “How do we navigate these challenges and stay afloat during these challenging times?” Below you can find some resources and best practices for non-acute care providers to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assess your practice’s options
Some healthcare providers, like dentists, have been forced to close by state order. Others, like plastic surgeons, have been effectively shut down due to hospitals having to postpone or cancel elective surgeries. Regardless of the type of practice or provider, significant and often unpleasant decisions must be made immediately.
- Consider your staffing needs during the next few months and proactively adjust accordingly. CRI has seen many of our clients retain their employees, and this is noble. Others, sadly, have been forced to furlough or lay-off employees. This decision is extremely difficult and varies practice by practice.
- The decision points for your practice include your cash reserves, liquidity, access to lending, appetite for your ownership group’s additional investment into the practice and/or compensation needs for the short-term, and expected downtime for your practice (among others). For those providers who retain their employees, you must consider liquidity and access to cash. For those providers who choose to furlough or lay-off employees, the consideration must be how long will your practice be disrupted, and can you rebound quickly on the other side of this crisis to deal with your “backlog”? Can you count on those employees who were furloughed or laid-off to be available on the other side and not seek employment elsewhere?
- The federal government has significantly eased lending requirements and liquidity. The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans with favorable terms. We encourage you to explore these options now, even if your liquidity may be strong in the near term.
One of the key best practices for non-acute care providers is communication. Communication is vital, even in the best of times. However, adequate, timely, and precise communication during this challenging time may be the difference between your practice’s future success or failure.
- Employees – communicate clearly, timely, and honestly with your employees, even if the message is uncomfortable. Your employees are the lifeblood of your practice, and you will rely on them to rebound quickly. If you are forced to furlough or lay-off your staff, communicate your expectations with a timeline for recovery, and continue to communicate during the downtime.
- Patients – communicate often with your patients. For some providers, this may cause changes to your practice’s operating procedures, hours, schedule, or simply reassuring them that you are at work and thinking of them. For others, this will mean communicating and rescheduling appointments for the future. Regardless of your circumstances, you must communicate with your patients to ensure that they do not migrate away from your business during this time.
- Acute care providers/referral sources/partners – continue to communicate with these entities, just as you would have before or perhaps more so. It will be vitally important for these entities to understand the specifics of your practice and your status, in order to capitalize on and capture the inevitable increase in volume on the other side of the crisis.
- States/trade associations/business advisors – more so than ever, you will need to rely on the resources and experts available to you. Trust that they are working on your behalf and frequently communicate with them.
Check CRIcpa.com for up-to-date guidance and additional best practices for non-acute care providers as legislation works its way through Congress and is implemented by federal agencies.