6 Keys to Sustaining Your Practice Through the Pandemic
Many temporary solutions put in place during COVID-19 will likely become a permanent part of your business strategy. Learn more about what your practice will need to thrive both during the pandemic and after it's over.
When COVID-19 first started to impact medical practices across the country, providers quickly put temporary solutions in place to ensure they were still able to see patients safely. As the pandemic stretched on, those temporary solutions became a regular part of doing business. And while we can’t predict exactly how COVID-19 will affect us in the future, one thing is becoming clearer every day: some of the changes we’ve made the past few months will shape how healthcare is managed after the global health crisis is over.
It’s time to start thinking long-term with your COVID-19 strategy. Below are six things your practice needs right now and that will continue to be important after the pandemic is over.
1. Online Payments
Most businesses already process a good amount of their payments online, but healthcare has been slow to adapt in this area. We no longer have the luxury of taking our time adopting digital payment options. It’s time to give patients what they’ve been wanting for years: the ability to pay their bills online.
Because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, contactless payments have surged. No-touch payments are an easy way to reduce the spread of germs, and most people already have what they need to complete these types of payments: phones, computers, and credit cards.
Online payments are encouraged even when you’re meeting patients in the office. BillFlash customers can easily facilitate this with LinkPay
LinkPay in 3 simple steps:
Create customized payment link with required amount
Email or text the link to patient before their visit
Patient pays the required amount, which is immediately confirmed and processed
COVID-19 demanded contactless payments for safety; people now expect them for convenience. Medical practices will need online payments if they are to stay relevant in the future.
Telehealth threw providers a lifeline when patients stopped coming into the office. The government acted quickly to relax telehealth reimbursement policies so providers would be paid as much for a telehealth visit as an in-office visit.
Congress is hoping to make these changes permanent. Whether they succeed or not, plan on keeping telehealth as an option for your patients. Because telehealth is not just useful during a pandemic—it’s great during normal life, too. Not all visits require an in-person encounter, and patients of all ages can benefit from the convenience of not having to physically leave their homes to get the medical care they need.
Patients have gotten used to having telehealth as an option. Keeping it as an option going forward will set you apart from other practices.
3. Automation Tools
Chances are you’re working with less staff than normal. With less people to handle your billing and payments, your best option is to automate whatever you can.
This could mean setting up AutoPay for patients you see regularly so they don’t have to manually pay their bill every time. It could also mean setting up a payment plan—in which a fixed amount will be paid automatically every month until the balance is paid off—or outsourcing your collections.
Automation doesn’t mean you lose control. Rather, it gives your staff more time to manage other essential operations. All the automation options mentioned above are available in BillFlash.
Learn more about online billing
4. Cyber Protection
With digital tools becoming more prevalent, it’s more important than ever to make sure your systems are protected. Hackers are out in full force right now, so it is imperative that you have proper malware and anti-virus software in place to protect yourself and your business. Do your homework on the tech companies you currently work with, too. Protecting you and your patients should be one of their top priorities.
And of course, your staff will need to be up to date on HIPAA protocols, as well. Make sure you’re doing everything you need to to protect patient privacy digitally as well as offline.
5. Financial Health
Some practices are struggling financially and may need government aid to get through the current crisis. On July 6, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) began accepting applications again. About $132 billion was still on the table when the program resumed, so if you haven't applied for a small business loan yet, now would be a good time. The deadline to apply is August 8, 2020.
If you haven’t already, consider applying for a line of credit. This is standard operating procedure even during normal times, and can help protect you from further financial disruptions in the future. No one knows how long this pandemic will last, so having a line of credit to fall back on during the coming months and years could be a game changer for your practice.
And finally, tax deadlines and credits may be different this year. The chart below (source: Physicians Practice) provides a quick overview of tax dates to be aware of.
6. A Good Patient Experience
Above all, you need happy patients. That is true whether we’re in a recession or not. Happy patients are more likely to pay their bills, more likely to return for future care, and more likely to recommend you to family and friends.
So as you make some of your COVID-19 changes permanent, make sure you’re still doing the little things to ensure a positive patient experience. These include:
Keep wait times short
Maintain eye contact during visits to assure patients you care
Be transparent about payment expectations and insurance, as well as what you're doing to keep patients and staff safe
Allow patients to pay using their preferred payment method
Offer to set up payment plans in lieu of requiring payments to be made in one lump sum