COVID-19 Long-term Impact

The Long-term Impact of COVID-19 

Categorizing these times as uncertain is an understatement.  What many people thought would be a few weeks of downtime to “flatten the curve” has evolved into a full-blown crisis that will have long-lasting ramifications – economic and otherwise.

It’s ironic that a healthcare crisis has caused so much economic damage to medical practices. In August, Merritt Hawkins completed a survey on COVID-19’s impact on physicians. Their findings are troubling: 72% of physicians have experienced a reduction in income; 41% had a patient volume loss of 26% or more; and 8% permanently closed their practices.

To stay afloat, physicians are having to focus on the here and now issues – managing the increased safety measures and forced staff reductions, to name a few.  This leaves little time to plan for and execute the strategies to help their practices thrive long-term.

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A Strong Foundation in an Unstable Time

The burdens of practice management have substantially increased over the years. Many dermatologists have struggled to keep up with the pace of the required administrative duties. After joining QualDerm’s larger, quality-driven network, dermatologists are able to re-focus their energy on caring for patients.

QualDerm’s True PartnershipSM model and commitment to quality provided the strong foundation necessary to help its affiliated practices successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, in the early stages and beyond. Because QualDerm’s leadership team is a combination of experienced physicians and business professionals, the organization was able to quickly devise and implement plans to address the clinical, HR, IT, legal and financial aspects of the pandemic. For example, the Chief Medical Officer and Quality Council researched and developed a 48-point safety checklist to guide affiliated practices’ in-person appointments. These safety guidelines are continuously reviewed and adapted as updated information from state and federal authorities are issued. Further, within two weeks of the pandemic’s start, QualDerm’s IT team implemented and trained staff on a new telehealth platform which allowed 85% of QualDerm-affiliated physicians to treat patients virtually. These early measures will continue to benefit affiliated practices’ ability to see patients into the future and to be ready for whatever comes next.

A Louder, Collective Voice

On top of the pandemic, dermatology practices may be seeing an additional negative impact on their bottom lines. Last month, CMS posted their proposed rules for the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule. Under this proposal many medical specialties, including dermatology, will face reduced reimbursement.

QualDerm’s financial team has analyzed this proposal and what it will mean for its affiliated practices. The organization is actively using its size and geographic breadth to make the voices of its partner physicians heard in D.C. in an effort to get the proposed rules reversed.

Additionally, QualDerm’s larger network gives the company greater leverage when negotiating rates with commercial payors in each of its regions. In fact, in North Carolina, QualDerm successfully negotiated a sizable reimbursement increase with one of the market’s largest payors.

As QualDerm expands its network to partner with more high-quality dermatologists and Mohs surgeons, the organization’s negotiating leverage and voice in the industry will continue to grow, benefitting each of its affiliated practices.

Learn more about how QualDerm’s larger, quality-driven network can help you position your practice for long-term success.

Contact us to find out more about partnership opportunities or to discuss selling your practice.