AMA’s financial checklist a ‘life preserver’ for front-line clinicians struggling against COVID-19
AMA recently published a financial checklist to help keep private practices financially afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic with tips like preparing for staff exposures and identifying and implementing clinical protocols that are specific to the disease.
PCPs are shutting down routine care because of the U.S. outbreak. Data from HealthLandscape, an organization that collects health, socioeconomic and environmental information, suggest that 58,025 family physicians will be out of work by the end of June as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ann Greiner, president and CEO of the Primary Care Collaborative, called it “an extremely stressful time” for front-line clinicians.
“They need information that will help them sustain themselves financially so that they can meet patient needs. It’s great that the AMA ... [and] a number of specialty societies that we work with have also been working around the clock to try to provide resources for clinicians.”
Some of the AMA’s suggestions, like implementing a process for rapid decision-making and planning ahead for employee furloughs, were especially helpful to Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, an internist at the Center for Primary Care McDuffie Medical office in rural eastern Georgia.
“The checklist is like tossing a life preserver to somebody who is drowning,” she told Healio Primary Care, adding that her rural practice has seen a 50% drop in patient office visits in the past few weeks.
“Everything is changing almost day to day,” Fincher said. “We have had regular meetings with our own staff here in our office, weekly meetings, sometimes daily, depending on what workflow changes need to happen.”
Conrad L. Flick, MD, a family physician with Community Care Physician Network living in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the AMA’s suggestion for digital health tools was impetus for some of his organization’s more rural locations to start using telemedicine — a move that helped “slow the bleeding.”
“Our number of visits in the office has dropped by probably 60% to 70%. We’re making up about 30% to 40% of that loss by being able to do telehealth,” he told Healio Primary Care.
The AMA’s financial checklist also advices physicians to make financial contingency plans, determine whether they are protected by their business insurance policies for COVID-19-related liabilities and consider current and future supply needs, among other recommendations. – by Janel Miller
AMA. Tips for keeping your practice in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/tips-keeping-your-practice-business-during-covid-19-pandemic. Accessed April 1, 2020.
HealthLandscape. About HealthLandscape. https://www.healthlandscape.org/About.cfm. Accessed April 6, 2020.
HealthLandscape. Coronavirus pandemic-related potential family medicine office closures and economic impact, April through June 2020. https://healthlandscape.org/covid19/. Accessed April 6, 2020.
Disclosures: Fincher, Flick and Greiner report no relevant financial disclosures.