Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S., patient access and financial health disruptions began increasing for specialty clinics. Utilization of specialized care plummeted in areas like gastroenterology (-73%), cardiology (-62%), dermatology (-62%), and orthopedics (-58%) in March of 2020.
Unfortunately, disturbances happening across healthcare specialties are ongoing, and they hurt both patients (who aren’t getting needed care) and specialists (who are facing substantial financial losses).
Specialty clinics — like other healthcare organizations across the U.S. — have seen patient volume and revenue drop in 2020.
With patients reluctant or unable to visit specialists for care, and COVID-19 continuing to cause revenue disruptions, clinics across a wide range of specialties are facing a similar set of challenges. Read this post to learn how one specialty clinic used the COVID-19 pandemic to reimagine its future.
Here are three factors contributing to revenue losses that clinics must address to protect their financial health during the remainder of 2020 and into 2021:
Fear is preventing patients from seeking care. Many patients are concerned about potentially being exposed to COVID-19 in healthcare settings. In a recent poll, more than a quarter of patients (27%) revealed that barring an emergency, they don’t plan to go to a doctor’s office until there is a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.
So, how can specialty clinics minimize fear and encourage patients to make and keep appointments? Good communication is a start.
Sending messages to engage patients and let them know about extra precautions that have been put into place can help ease patients’ fears. For example, maybe you rearranged your waiting room and are reserving more time between appointments to allow for social distancing in your facility.
Or, maybe you transformed your check-in process and are asking patients to complete intake forms, submit insurance cards, or pay co-pays digitally in advance of appointments in order to provide a zero-contact experience. If so, it is helpful to send out a broadcast message to current patients and let them know about the changes and what to expect when they arrive for an appointment.
Delaying care can cause serious health implications. And, as patients cancel appointments and defer treatment, specialty practices lose revenue. Reaching out to patients may help them feel more comfortable and drive greater use of care.
Download this eBook for more ideas on revenue recovery campaigns your practice can implement today.
Elective surgeries and other non-essential procedures have been halted in some areas to help conserve resources for treating COVID patients. As a result, specialty clinics that are missing out on revenue that normally comes from these surgeries and procedures need to find ways to recoup losses. Telehealth is proving to be a good option for many clinics.
Specialists that have not considered using telehealth in the past are learning that it can be used effectively for a variety of types of care. While a surgery obviously can’t happen via telehealth, diagnostic appointments, consultations, and follow-up appointments related to surgeries could potentially be conducted via telehealth.
If patients aren’t accustomed to using telehealth, they may not know it is an option. Communicating with patients and letting them know what services are available via telehealth is critical.
So is ensuring that using telehealth is simple for patients. Clinics should look for a telehealth solution that allows patients to join appointments without having to use special apps or complete a complicated registration or login process. Ultimately, the more patient-friendly your telehealth solution is, the more likely patients are to use it.
Watch this short video to learn how Luma Health’s solution automates referral outreach to make scheduling appointments for referred patients simple.
Operating at normal capacity and maintaining the usual financial health is difficult when your clinic is short staffed. Unfortunately, a lot of clinics are struggling with staffing issues due to furloughs, layoffs, and in some cases, staff having to quarantine because of COVID-19.
For clinics that are facing staffing shortages, prioritizing efficiency is a must. Something as simple as enabling and encouraging patients to self-schedule their appointments online can make a difference by reducing call volumes and freeing up staff time. Better yet, pair online scheduling with automated outreach to referred patients, and you get a more streamlined and efficient process for converting referrals—something every specialty clinic needs for revenue.
Specialty clinics across the U.S. need to take swift action to prevent further financial losses and increase their financial health by recovering lost revenue. Luma Health offers support and solutions that help clinics address the challenges discussed here, along with many others. To learn about our easy-to-use patient messaging and telehealth solutions, contact us today.