After three weeks of constant discussions with our primary care clients at the front line of this health crisis, there can be no doubt our country is incredibly lucky to be served by a group of professionals so dedicated not only to their own patients but to the community as a whole.

For many, their days are full of management of clinical risk for their patients. Their evenings are spent reviewing the latest information and planning for the next day or worrying about how to manage the shortage of PPE and keep their teams safe.

Amongst all of this, time to consider the financial implications of the coronavirus on their practice is in short supply. 

When they do have time, the financial risks are also not easy to identify – how many patients will stay away? What happens if the clinic is closed? How can I look after my employees? How long with elective surgeries be cut off?  What happens if my patients can’t pay? There is no shortage of questions, but unfortunately, very few clear answers. 

If you are short on time and don’t know where to start, here are three actions you can take to sustain your practice through the financial crisis that we are facing. 

1. Set the right foundation

Put simply, now is the time to understand the financial metrics of your practice. Management of cash is key to helping you through this, so the right foundation involves not only understanding what is “business as usual” for you, but what are the early signs that things are changing? Some questions to consider:

  • How much cash does your practice usually need to run?
  • What, if any, are the opportunities to trim this?
  • What are the normal trends of your item number usage, patient referrals and type of services?
  • What is your data telling you about how this is changing, and by how much?
  • How are you utilising your team?

2. Ask the hard questions

Just like a clinical treatment plan, financially, you need to be ready to implement some actions if things start to go wrong. This means, being prepared to consider that scenario now. Early acknowledgement of the issues around the worst case scenario will give you early options to take action to prevent it or lessen the impact. In short, asking the hard questions early gives you more options later.

  • Some of the hard questions:
  • What happens if my patients can’t pay any gap and my revenue is 100% bulk billed?
  • What happens if preventative care ceases, as patients are only dealing with emergency issues?
  • What happens if my practice has to close temporarily – how will I pay my bills?
  • What happens if I can’t pay my rent?

They are not called hard questions for no reason. They are confronting, designed not to alarm, but inform. What is your plan to protect the resilience of your practice if this occurs?

3. Use the stimulus in a team approach

There is a lot of stimulus being provided from a lot of different sources. We have put together a summary that is constantly kept up to date on our website, here.

The stimulus is part of your tool kit to keep your practice resilient. It is not the whole tool kit, so should not be considered alone. A multi-faceted plan is needed to help you through this.

With a multi-faceted plan, comes the need for a multi-disciplinary team. Your practice manager, accountant, lawyer, HR specialist, technology specialist and banker all have a part to play. Have a plan, communicate early and enlist the help of your team to get you through this.

We are here to help. As a national team, working on the same national systems, we are able to mobilise easily in the virtual space to assist both local and national clients.

Our national primary care team are well experienced in advising practices across a range of issues.  Together, with the expertise of our colleagues in technology, strategy, clinical workforce utilisation, insolvency, organisational culture and more, we are here are support you.

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