Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

Archive June 2020 XXI, No. 6

Business Advisor: Capitalizing on the Coronavirus

Short-term challenges offer opportunities for long-term improvement.

Adam Taylor


MEETING OF THE MINDS Providing patients with additional financial and clinical support now will set your facility up for future success.

As elective procedures resume during the COVID-19 outbreak, you need to tactfully communicate with anxious patients, help financially strapped individuals afford surgery, manage uncertain caseloads and make sure your facility is on firm financial ground as concerns of a second wave persist. The efforts you make to address these challenges will set your facility up for future success when the surgical landscape eventually returns to normal.

1Improve your revenue cycle
Patients whose procedures were approved by insurers before their surgeries were canceled now might not have enough disposable income to pay out-of-pocket expenses. “It will be a different world, clinically and financially,” says Keith Gruebele, president of BHG Patient Lending.

“Facilities will have to do their part to provide patients with creative ways to get their surgeries done in ways that will fit into their new budgets.”

When creative financing options for patients are found, it’s important to collect every penny of copays and deductibles, because they’re the quickest and likely urgently needed payments your facility will receive. Mr. Gruebele estimates that reimbursements from insurance companies overtaxed from COVID-19 claims will take two to three times longer to arrive than before. The key to remaining fiscally sound in the short-term is to have at least three months, and preferably six, of operating expenses in a rainy-day fund. Mr. Gruebele estimates that most ASCs have less than one month in their reserves. Unless your physician-owners are willing to dip into their own pockets to create the reserve fund, you should be working to secure long-term financing now.

“The truth is that the halt in income has been catastrophic for some centers,” says Mr. Gruebele. “My fear is that facilities will get their Paycheck Protection Program Loan and some advances from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and be on a stimulus high that makes them think they’re in a better financial strait than they really are. That money will be spent very quickly.”

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