Blog | Physician Relationships

COVID-19-induced revenue issues and staffing challenges causing some PCP practices to close their doors

Blog | Physician Relationships

COVID-19-induced revenue issues and staffing challenges causing some PCP practices to close their doors

  • More than 25% of physicians surveyed in mid-October by the Larry A. Green Center and the Primary Care Collaborative say they had inadequate access to COVID-19 testing while 14% say they lack appropriate PPE, according to a recent Healthcare Dive article.
  • Those physicians are also struggling to replace practice members and fill open positions, according to the article.
  • Among those surveyed, 27% say they have lost practice members due to early retirements or illness, while 35% say they cannot fill open staffing positions, Healthcare Dive reported.

A Nov. 17 Healthcare Dive article reporting on a mid-October survey of 582 physicians from the Larry A. Green Center and the Primary Care Collaborative states, “More than a quarter [of survey respondents] say they had inadequate access to COVID-19 testing while 14% say they lack appropriate personal protective equipment.

“Those physicians are also struggling to replace practice members and fill open positions,” according to the article.

“… Many personnel are actually leaving medical practices," said the article. "Among those surveyed, 27% say they have lost practice members due to early retirements or illness, while 35% say they cannot fill open staffing positions.” 

The survey also included responses to questions about how patient access to care and health have been impacted by the pandemic. My colleague Rich Daly does an excellent job of analyzing those answers in this article.

Takeaway

The survey further reinforces what we’ve been hearing about the fragility of independent primary care providers (PCPs). If Congress passes another COVID-19 relief bill, which includes an additional PRF appropriation, that will address the PCP’s short-term financial issues. This assumes legislation is passed soon and additional funds are distributed quickly, which isn’t a safe assumption, given talks still appear stalled (or non-existent as of the week of Nov. 16).

However, the staffing issues — particularly early retirements — are a longer-term issue that will likely put additional pressure on some practices to sell to health systems, health plans or private equity groups. If health plans use this as an opportunity to either acquire or more closely align with physicians, it will likely accelerate the transition to value-based payment.

About the Author

Chad Mulvany, FHFMA,

is director, healthcare finance policy, strategy and development, HFMA’s Washington, D.C., office.

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