Survey: Coronavirus endangers private practices

April 24, 2020

The continued pandemic is having a negative impact on practices.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has cause patient volumes to largely decrease for 89 percent of practices as 82 percent say they’re limiting well care and chronic care visits, according to the most recent survey from the Primary Care Collaborative.

The survey, which received more than 1,000 respondents between April 17 to April 20, paints a grim picture of the financial health of practices across all 50 states with 57 percent of respondents saying less than half of their work is reimbursable.

The pandemic has also created challenges with staffing, with 41 percent of practices reporting outages due to illness and quarantine for clinicians, 42 percent have seen outages due to similar situations with nurses, and 30 percent for front desk staff. A total of 82 percent of respondents say the COVID-19-related stress on their practice has been severe or close to severe, the survey says.

One Brightside of the pandemic has been the widespread adoption of telehealth services to help shore up business, but that has come with its own challenges as 65 percent of respondents say they have patients who can’t use the services due to a lack of computers or internet. The expansion of the services have been limited with 40 percent of respondents relying mostly on video, 13 percent relying on e-visits, and 16 percent relying on patient portals. For comparison, 44 percent are conducting the majority of their telehealth visits by telephone, according to the survey.

The pandemic also seems to be hitting the most vulnerable in the community the hardest with 20 percent of respondents reporting a “shockingly high” increase in COVID-19 impact on those patients who have lost their jobs and 36 percent reported an increase of burden on this group. People who are still going to work seem to be hit the hardest of all, though, as 27 percent of respondents saw meaningful increases among essential workers and 22 percent reported an increase among those who can’t work from home, the survey says.