The number of healthcare practices that have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, with 20% of practices closing down temporarily and another 13% planning to do so in the next month, according to a survey of nearly 3,000 offices.
Fifty-seven percent of practices are losing money every month because their revenue no longer covers their monthly expenses, according to the survey, which is being conducted weekly by the Primary Care Collaborative.
To alleviate expenses during the crisis, most practices are cutting back on hours for their staffs, including 65% of nurses and 58% of administrative staffers, which would likely employees who handle billing and collection activities.
While that presents some opportunities for companies in the credit and collection industry to possibly attract new business and expand into offering more back-office support and early out collections to help practices that may be suffering, there are legitimate concerns that the pandemic is causing a fundamental shift in how healthcare is managed in the United States, which could have significant consequences for the industry.
One-third of those practices that participated in the survey indicated they believe that the majority of independent primary care practices will be gone by the time the pandemic is over. Consolidation on such a grand scale could cause the number of clients and accounts to shrink dramatically, which would leave collection agencies fighting for accounts.
“While primary care steps up, far too little has been done to support them and they are on the verge of collapse,” Said Rebecca Etz, PhD, co-director of The Larry A. Green Center and associate professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University, in a published report. “Over half of those surveyed said we aren’t ready for the next wave of the pandemic, and 70 percent of them fear if primary care fails, so does the health care system.”