A few months ago, we mentioned some of the benefits that FQHCs and private practices have by establishing partnerships. Last month, we discussed the strong possibility of private primary care practices and rural hospitals closing because of the pandemic and the complications it has brought along with it. According to an article from Rev Cycle Intelligence published on April 22, 2020, a new survey, that was conducted from April 10 to April 13, showed that the pandemic will drain 20 percent of the nation’s primary care practices of the necessary resources required to be open past May 20, 2020. According to the survey:
- 34 percent clinicians said they have no capacity for COVID-19 testing while 32 percent reported having a limited capacity.
- 53 percent reported a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) while 58 percent reported they are utilizing either used or homemade versions.
Furthermore, the private “practices are hoping to receive external financing support to” remain open to treat patients. About 1/5 of the survey respondents, stated that it is likely for them to apply for a Small Business Administration loan in the next four weeks.
What does this mean for your providers, facility and patients? This could mean:
- Longer government-ordered stay-at-home and work-from-home orders through the pandemic.
- An influx of insured and uninsured patients.
While this may sound bad, it doesn’t have to. This situation puts community health centers in a unique position. Because large private and public hospital systems may not be contracting out or entertaining the idea of adding staff, community health centers can contract with or temporarily absorb the private practices threatening to close and treat the expanded patient base together. If the hospital systems aren’t willing to do it, why should community health centers? For starters, community health centers are structured differently and the influx of patients that will be coming through the door because they were laid off or furloughed (and now may not have insurance) are both drivers to partner.
Are you recruiting a new provider? Were you planning an expansion via a provider but then the pandemic happened?
Either way – the pandemic might sweeten the deal for the private practices to join forces with community health centers in this fight and be the key to getting through the pandemic.
While Medicare has lifted its restrictions related to virtual visits for the pandemic, it has not decided whether or not it will reimburse private practices for the services it is providing to Medicare beneficiaries. 44 percent of the survey respondents are not sure if their practice will be reimbursed.