By Douglas Tardio
Last week we conducted a survey of our membership to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on our practices and how the United Rheumatology team could best offer our assistance. To date, over 89 practices from across the country have completed the survey… Thank you. Additionally, for those practices that share data, we reviewed key clinical elements on practice productivity and clinical workflow to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on individual practices and our specialty. Our data team set a baseline of four separate work weeks prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and compared several measures to the last three weeks ending this past Friday. The facts, that I am sure many of you already understand, are staggering.
- New Patient Visits -55%
- Established Patient Visits -49%
- Infusion Visits -42%
These are averages across all of our data contributors. Depending on area of the country and volume of coronavirus infections, several large practices have seen visit reductions across all patient visits in the -60% to -70% for several weeks. As we all recognize the downstream effects are real and immediate.
The impact of the coronavirus on you and your staff has been significant as well. The physical challenges of running a practice (large or small) are endless with new hurdles found each day.
And then there are practices that have taken on the coronavirus firsthand…
Two weeks ago, we initiated a major communication effort regarding telemedicine to our members. Bill Moore and our IT team performed due diligence on several vendors, we secured pricing for members on TSI and worked with our Medical Policy Committee, including Alvin Wells, MD to offer best practices in implementing this critical patient engagement tool. Our Practice Relations Managers assisted over 82 practices install the Doxy.me telemedicine platform in one week! The early results are promising.
And then Congress passes a small business $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program. I heard it referred to as “Free Money.” The catch apparently was that the only “small businesses” that could secure the funds were actually big business (national chain restaurants were included for example) with major lobbying firms. On Friday, banks were trying to find out what application to use. Today…
While United Rheumatology’s bank Chase is still…
Help was actually hours working with our Chase representatives over 48 hours to try desperately to submit our application.
My personal frustration with respect to this program is incredible. It is as if it never happened. $350 billion in “immediate” loans just vanished. Bank of America’s website this afternoon doesn’t even address the program!
So, where do we go next? At United Rheumatology we have held a series of conversations with Curascript on your behalf. First with our direct contacts and today with the CFO of Express Scripts and the President of CuraScript. We requested a universal extension of payment terms to 180 days. Unfortunately, we were unable to receive a blanket agreement. Express Scripts has committed to working with each of our practices individually to help. It was not the answer Max and I were looking for, but it’s a start. We let the Express Scripts team know we would continue to escalate and need feedback from any practice that does not receive the support from our partner that they deserve.
Lynette’s team in Practice Solutions Plus along with Amanda and the Practice Relations Managers have been on the phone with member practices day and night to help. We are all here to help. My only encouragement, we are all in this together and I know if we can leverage all of our resources… we will make it through these difficult times. As always, if you need our help call, if you think you can help another member, call us at UR… maybe you can help 10 or 20 with our assistance.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay United.