The financial impact of COVID-19 poses yet another threat to an already strained healthcare system. Even prior to the pandemic, healthcare costs were a major challenge. But times of crisis spur new solutions, renewed commitments, and solidarity that for many healthcare professionals equals genuine heroism. There are also many existing and affordable technologies that can be easily and quickly adopted, to help blunt the financial impact of this unprecedented chapter in history.
Risk and Uncertainty
Less than 25 percent of healthcare providers in the United States have cash reserves to tide them over for more than two months. Experts recommend developing contingency plans, and updating existing action plans. Include a thorough review of the practice’s insurance coverage, to help limit financial liability exposure. Continuously monitor and incorporate guidance from authorities like the CDC, as those can impact a practice’s finances. Reconfirm the security protocols of vendors and other partners. Healthcare practices have to insulate themselves from the potential vulnerability of those 3rd-party partners. But those partners may also have best practices and revenue capturing solutions to share, that can aid in financial crisis management and planning.
New billing codes related to COVID-19 lab work and testing were just released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Immediately update billing codes, otherwise not doing so could have a detrimental effect on billing and collections, as well as the ability of the global healthcare industry to track and respond to meaningful COVID-19 data. Similarly, it is critical that healthcare practices keep detailed records of inventories, incoming supplies, and invoices. Those should be in electronic format to reduce error and make them easier to search and use to generate insightful reports. Electronic records can also be safely and conveniently stored in the cloud, facilitating remote work while safeguarding data during a global emergency.
Insurance Verification and Claims
Providers will need to process an avalanche of claims, while minimizing the risk of human error or wrong billing codes that can trigger a denial of reimbursement. They’ll also have to control for security and HIPAA-compliance, even under conditions of extreme duress and front or back office staffing shortages. Fortunately, there are highly capable turnkey software solutions with robust security built-in, that can relieve that burden while making the process exponentially more efficient. Updated billing codes are seamlessly integrated. Patient insurance coverage can likewise be quickly and automatically verified, with full upfront financial transparency. Patients will know what they are responsible for paying, even before their procedure, so they can do their own financial planning.
Looking Beyond the Pandemic
On a more positive note, Harvard Business Review reports that this kind of crisis can inspire innovation and accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Telehealth is great example, and smartphone tracking of COVID-19 is another tool that will be useful even in a post-pandemic world. Healthcare interoperability will likely increase, and supply chain logistics will become more adaptable and decentralized. The current crisis is already exposing systemic and structural inequities and inefficiencies, in a way that prompts policy changes and actions that can ultimately strengthen the healthcare industry worldwide. Such changes will all help to manage or lower healthcare costs, while enhancing the delivery of patient-focused quality care.