By: First Union
Navigating This Week as a Medical Practice Owner
This might be the busiest time your medical practice has ever seen. No matter what field you are in, urgent care, chiropractic, clinic, emergency room, the influx of sick patients is causing overflow that will inevitably trickle down to every medical office that's still open. Perhaps patients who would normally go to their primary doctor for pain, are now branching out and looking for other offices that may not be as busy. Many people are doing anything to avoid going to the emergency room, as it has been advised to only go when absolutely necessary to keep it available for people who do not have a choice. Furthermore, people who are going to a hospital and are not infected with COVID-19 put themselves at risk.
With this being said, many other branches of medical practices may be seeing more business than ever. There are some proactive steps you can take during this time to ensure long-term success and safety of your medical practice with this in mind.
Keeping Everyone Safe
The most important thing you can do right now in handling extra patients is to make sure everyone is completely safe. If you have a waiting room or any area where patients may be in close range to each other, you must space it out. Waiting Room chairs should be at least 6 feet apart, as well as any equipment that patients might be on such as chiropractic tables. If you can, put a plexiglass barrier in front of the reception desk. Every business that is still in operation is taking extra sterilization steps. This means keeping disinfectant on hand to sanitize every piece of equipment between use. Whatever chair or table patients sit on, such as the dentist or chiropractic chair, needs to be sprayed and wiped down every time, even if you are using a paper barrier. Furthermore, regulating the health of staff members and sending home anyone with a fever or showing symptoms is pertinent.
Perfect Your Decision Making
Things seem to be changing by the hour. To keep the confusion to a minimum there needs to be a clear chain of command. Any time there is an update that needs to be addressed, it should come from the same person, someone in authority who everyone can take seriously. Addressing things immediately will keep uncertainty at bay, and help everyone take the updates seriously. Even if it seems small, address updates in a manner that feels right for your practice, whether it be a group meeting or a mass email. Remember what is important for staff and patients to know. This will also assure your staff that you are keeping an eye on things and evaluating the situation with them in mind.
Focus on What Is Important
If you own a dental practice, now might not be the time to be scheduling routine annual cleanings. Everyone leaving their house to go to an appointment is taking a potential risk. Those risks must be weighed. Routine appointments and elective surgeries may be put off, and only urgent cases should be seen. This is not to say you neglect your patients. You are actually keeping them safer in this way. If there is any way to care for your patients without having them come into the office, take it. Therapists and psychiatrists have been able to keep seeing their patients over secured video or phone calls. While it might not be ideal, it is necessary at this time. Taking these precautions could mean that you stay in business and do not get your staff of patients unnecessarily infected.
Your “Essential Business” Standing
With a new shelter-in-place order coming out every few days, the area where you operate a business may be restricting openings. Although, some of the mandates are unclear. Many medical practices are considered essential businesses at this time. Chiropractors, dentists, and therapists can all take some burden away from emergency rooms. If you are a medical office and are unsure if you should be operating as an essential business, reach out to the local council as soon as possible. This can also put employees at ease, knowing they are officially allowed to be going to and from work, and that they are not needlessly leaving home. If an employee still feels uncomfortable working during a shelter-in-place order, it’s best to have a talk with them and not jump to conclusions. They may be scared to come to work because they have heard misinformation, or are part of a high-risk group. It is important to understand their fears, dispel any misinformation and decide together if it is safe for them to come in. Just the simple act of hearing them out can mean a lot, and ensure everyone's safety.
Handling your Finances
Reach out to your insurance broker as soon as possible to see how you may be covered from COVID expenses. Keep records of special expenses and any losses in case you need to make a claim. Evaluate your current finances to ensure cash flow for the next few months, in the event that you see lower than normal revenue because of cancellations. You don't want to get surprised by anything. Keep open communication with all 3rd party operators such as landlords and vendors so you can handle situations as soon as they come up.
If you need more help with your expenses during this unprecedented time, First Union Lending can provide the funding you need to keep going strong. We are still open and operating at regular business hours, to get small business owners the support they need.