The nation’s 3.3 million home healthcare workers are front-line heroes in the war against COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 and the healthcare workforce has been devastating in all sectors of the healthcare industry. Home health agencies are facing severe declines in revenue and workforce. Physicians have closed approximately 243,000 offices average and have suffered a 60% drop in patient volume. More aides and personal care workers are needed but lack Personal Protective Equipment. Stretched by challenges, new regulations and waivers are giving some hope to the home care industry.
The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released last Friday found dentists’ offices had the most losses with 503,000. Physicians’ offices lost 243,000, and other healthcare practices had 205,000 losses.
Nearly half of independent medical practices report they have had to furlough or lay off staff, according to a new survey from the Medical Group Management Association.
The survey, which garnered 724 responses from medical practices between April 7 and 8, found practices have seen an average 60% drop in patient volume on average and a 55% decrease in revenue since the beginning of the public health crisis.
With those drops, 48% of practices said they’d been forced to temporarily furlough staff and 22% permanently laid off staff. Beyond that, many who have not yet lay off or furloughed staff said they would consider those cuts if conditions persist over the next 30 days.
“Patients are foregoing necessary preventive and even acute care out of fear of exposure. Medical practices are struggling to keep their doors open as volume collapses. The nation faces a second wave access crisis when the pent up demand for non-COVID-19 care is released and the rest of our healthcare system is offline as a result of the pandemic,” says Anders Gilberg, who is MGMA’s senior vice president of government affairs.
In a bid to help support practices, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) last month agreed to pay for virtual visits at the same rate as in-person visits while the coronavirus emergency remains in effect.
CMS also agreed to pay physicians for patient visits that take place by telephone to help practices stay open by providing them with needed revenue. But medical practices continue to report concerns about keeping their doors open due to the financial pressures.
Lisa Remington is president of the Remington Health Strategy Group and publisher of the Remington Report magazine and has worked with more than 6,000 organizations in both a consultancy role and educator. Lisa monitors the complex key trends and forces of change to develop a correct strategic approach to de-risk decision-making and create sustainable futures across the healthcare continuum.