Small business owners everywhere are rightly concerned about how they will withstand partial and full quarantines due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic. Medical and Dental practice owners are facing unprecedented times as they try to figure out how to survive the partial and potentially full shut-down of their practice. Critical clinical supplies are in short supply plus rules to social distancing are causing all sorts of new operational considerations. Due to social distancing, patients are not able to come to their appointments which may further overwhelm the medical and dental community in the future. Routine medicine is important so we don’t know the adverse effects on society when it stops. All these lead to financial strain on the practice and the owner, some may not be able to weather the storm.
Regarding Doctors CFO, we all can work remotely and often do. We are available as normal as is the staff, so there should be no interruption on our end. Doctors, Dentists, and their staff do not have the luxury of working from home so they are at risk of losing all of their production. Other types of businesses may be able to sell gift cards or sell products online. Medical and dental practices do not have this option. We have put some thought into how you can help your practice to sustain through this catastrophic event. Here are some ideas gathered from my team and other providers that might help you plan during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Our 25 COVID-19 / Corona Virus Suggestions Are:
1. The slow times are the best time to implement change,. This includes remodels, new media, deep cleaning, moving to more tele-medicine, CE, training, etc… Whatever item that you did not have time to do, perhaps you do have the time now.
2. Develop additional social media content. Let your patients know that you are still thinking about them and their upcoming preventative or therapeutic visits. Educate your Instagram and Facebook followers on how you are handling their care once you are able to see them again. Take live-action shots of the steps you are taking, including deep cleaning, etc.
3. Your Accounts Receivable includes insurance and patient balances. The question is how hard should you pursue the patient balance because their funds might be affected as well? One client is sending statements with a comment like this on the statement. “We know is a difficult time for everybody. For the next 30 days, we are suspending our normal collections policy and asking that if you can send the full payment, please do and if not a partial payment. This will help us make sure our employees are paid and taken care of as well.” Please compose your own wording.
4. Protect your inventory. Employees are people and people can do weird things when they are scared. Perhaps put a camera on it. Have a plan to move it offsite if necessary. This includes patients as well, for example, we are learning that a lot of toilet paper is disappearing.
5. Purchase additional non-perishable inventory when the supply chain comes back and negotiate big volumes discounts. Short term this is bad for cash flow, long term it is fantastic! Please store the excess somewhere where no one can see it because when you think you have a lot you are not as frugal.
6. Talk to your state unemployment office to see how it works in the case you furlough some of your staff. Develop a plan for that now so that you can make informed decisions when the time comes.
7. Check your insurance policy, some of this may be covered under business interruption insurance. Business Interruption Insurance typically covers things like operating expenses and payroll in the event of disasters.
8. Some practices are offering negative PTO. This means that you are allowing employees to be below zero in their banked hours and they can make it up later. This will affect their future vacation plans, so please let them know. One comment on this government is about to pass a law requiring business under 500 employees to provide additional pay and benefits. This might put many out of business, so don’t do anything till we learn more. Please call your elected officials to stop their draconian measures.
9. Related to above you could award a one-time payout of perhaps 60, 80 or 120 hours for them to use during the shutdown. The hours might be used perhaps 20, 25, 30 or even 35 hours per week. If this is done, it is suggested you have them sign an agreement that if they leave in less than a year or perhaps two they have to pay the hours back.
10. For salary and commissioned doctors, you can offer an advance. Please realize that for commissioned doctors collections will still be coming in but a true-up will eventually occur. If you do this, you might want to review the employment agreements for those that are missing important non compete agreements.
11. Remind employees to be frugal. Offer to brainstorm with employees ways to cut down on monthly bills.
12. Lobby your state officials for help. There is an argument that with the slow down commercial insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will not payout at the same rate. Therefore this is a huge upside for them. It is fair to ask your state legislature that they should release the funds to some degree as if services were rendered.
13. Lobby your state and federal elected officials that insurance premiums should be suspended from 60 or 90 days. This will help the consumer to afford to continue their medical and dental care as soon as possible and ultimately save businesses like yours. Added to this are other payments like auto and home. If everyone is to help, then everyone including banks should help.
14. Ensure your work from home computers are secure. Unfortunately, criminals will use this time to take advantage of people. Protect yourself as best you can from scammers, hackers, and con artists.
15. For the investors out there, there will be great deals so hold your cash. Timing is everything when you are an investor. Purchase when you are certain that it will be a good deal and profitable in months or years to come.
16. Pick your essential skeleton crew. In this consideration, be sure to think about who is essential and that you do not want to leave. This is a great opportunity to let them know how important they are.
17. Some are saying if you travel more than X miles from the office, you are on automatic quarantine. Here is a link you can use to check any given radius around your practice.
18. Give employees as much flexibility as you can, if they are not able to work. Many people are facing childcare issues with school and daycares closing or they may have an immune-compromised individual in their home they need to protect.
19. Develop a plan, create a new policy or new business plan for disasters, this may not be the last time you need to be prepared. What will you do if you cannot receive supplies that you need to see patients? What would you do if one of your employees became ill?
20. Communicate plans clearly and frequently with patients/clients & staff. Everyone will be interested to hear your response as a doctor.
21. Support your office manager, this is going to be an emotional time for them as they manage through the chaos. The office manager is most likely just as stressed as the owner. They care about the longevity and sustenance of the practice and they are your biggest player in helping you survive the possible shutdown.
22. Pay your staff to deep clean the office. Your staff will feel good about earning some extra money and you will feel good that when you are seeing patients, every surface is disinfected and safe for your employees and clients.
23. Ask for equipment deals. If there is a piece of equipment that you have been longing for and you have the cash to survive then now is the time ask for the deal of a lifetime. Look for used equipment first.
24. Have a transition plan if you can’t work anymore. Include a buy-sell agreement for the business and have a plan A and perhaps B of who you can sell to if you are not going to maintain the practice.
25. Have a legal will prepared. This should be a high priority if a will does not exist. Update the will as necessary.
26. Temporarily suspend insurance benefits. Though not many of my offices offer insurance, retirement and other benefits, these benefits fail compared to getting a paycheck. Employees would rather get a paycheck for a longer period of time.
27. Develop Cash Pricing. We will talk more about this in a special report.
28. Negotiate Rent. Ask for a better deal on your location.
To participate in this week’s poll, please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Instagram to see the poll results ,“Is Your Practice Limiting or Planning on Limiting Seeing Patients?”
Prior Article Poll Results
Our last poll asked “When Was The Last Time You Had a True Brainstorming Session?” Based on the responses we received, 50% said “Last Month”, 25% said “Last Week” and 25% said “Never”.
The reason we are publishing these articles is so that your office can increase its success. We appreciate your feedback on how we can help you more and love it when you pass these articles along to other practice owners and office managers.
Developing a management report is not easy and Doctors CFO currently has a robust model for most practice types that is customized for our monthly and bi-monthly clients. If you have questions on how this model applies to your practice or you are interested in applying the Doctors CFO model in your practice, via one of our annual, bi-monthly or monthly assessments, please contact us.
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