Post-pandemic considerations for independent healthcare providers

Now that things are very slowly opening back up again in certain parts of the country, what is the landscape going to look like? It’s obvious by now that things are going to be different when individual states give the green light for elective surgical procedures. Even the boldest of patients may initially be apprehensive when they return to your practice. Your staff will likely be nervous as well. It’s important to develop a strategy now to figure out what your practice will look like when you do reopen. How many patients will you be comfortable scheduling in the first week or month? What is your cleaning routine going to look like between every patient? Who is going to need to come in close proximity to each patient? Will you provide masks and other protective equipment to each patient or rely on them to provide their own?

Then there is the financial health of your patient population. Are they going to be able to pay out-of-pocket costs for elective procedures if they or their spouse/partner has been laid off? How do you remain sensitive to the budget of your customers while also focusing on your practice’s bottom line? What about the financial health of your staff? How badly will the loss of several paychecks affect them? How many may decide not to come back either for financial or health reasons? How will you account for those contingencies?

Some practices may have traditionally relied heavily on educational events where you invited prospective patients to learn more about the services your practice offers. These will likely need to look quite different, at least in the short term. However, patients will still need education of some sort, so will you be a pioneer in figuring out the best way to reach potential new customers effectively?

Don’t forget to lean on your most trusted vendors. They are likely coming up with their own materials to help their customers survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone wants some sort of “Grand Reopening” event, though it is likely going to be much more muted than anyone would want. That said, you are going to need to let your patients know when you are planning to reopen for routine visits and what that is going to look like. Once you set a firm date, let some of your vendors know as well. Perhaps they can help spread the word as well or offer promotional materials for you to adapt for your customer base.

This is, of course, not the first time that society has been faced with a regional or global crisis. Millions of people, including healthcare owners and operators, are now being faced with the same sort of challenge. You can either hole up, cross your fingers, and hope that things will magically get better, or you can be a proactive driver of change to shore up the short- and long-term health of our practice. What kind of leader will you choose to be?