It’s now been a year since medical practices have been up against a global pandemic, and they are still facing uncertainty. During the past 12 months, medical practices have continued to provide services for patients despite exhaustion, personal risk of infection, and even fear of transmission to family members. This has led to an increase of pressure on doctors and their employees. Some of the biggest impacts medical practices have seen from COVID is quicker employee turnover, higher burnout rates, an increase in telemedicine, and an overall loss of patients.
The environment in the medical field includes packed work days, a fast pace, time pressures, and emotional intensity. This can put doctors and their employees at high risk for burnout. Burnout is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.
Burnout was a serious problem in the medical field even before COVID hit, although it did add extra layers to the formula. One of the biggest contributing factors to burnout is taking on too much work, and that’s exactly what happened when COVID hit. Not only are there normal day-to-day tasks, but now added tasks like sanitation, extra planning, and pivoting to new practices like telemedicine.
Burnout combined with the uncertainty factor has resulted in a high employee turnover rate. Some employees had to cut back their hours due to kids being at home. Some made a switch in careers, and some took the opportunity to retire early. This left many practices struggling to find sufficient replacements.
The fear of transmitting COVID-19 led many health professionals to isolate themselves from their families for months. Working remotely and being shunned by community members further contributed to loneliness. The training of medical students, residents, and allied health learners was also interrupted, leading to fewer qualified applicants available to replace employees that left the practice.
It’s important for medical practices to retain their employees as you can lose great employees that drive productivity and know the job. Maintaining the same employees encourages a team environment, and it takes away the stress of hiring and training new employees.
Increase in Telemedicine
Telemedicine isn't new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put the technology front and center. In the beginning of the pandemic when most offices were forced to close due to state government stay-at-home orders, telemedicine was the only way to keep seeing patients. Even with regulations loosening up, some patients are continuing to opt for virtual appointments. This was a good solution to see patients that had existing appointments and felt safer from home.
Telemedicine can be a great tool for medical practices that serve rural areas, as they can save patients hours of time and encourage them to get regular check-ins. It is also a good way to make up for some of the decline in office visits.
Although it is overall a helpful tool, it does have its downfalls. Some appointments still need to be in-person for thoroughness, and there is debate on technicalities. For example: Should doctors be paid the same for these calls as in-person appointments? What safeguards should exist to prevent fraud and ensure patient safety? When is it acceptable to utilize audio calls or texts?
As more states are opening, telemedicine is on the decline. We know that it will stick around, and we can expect to see more in-depth outlines for how to use telemedicine in your medical practice.
Every day you can turn on the TV and see health experts giving their advice on what places are deemed safe to go, where you should avoid, the consequences of getting COVID, and how to try and stay safe through all of this. Through this communication, it led some people to develop the fear of going into medical practices or leaving the house in general.
Another problem is the massive amounts of jobs lost during the pandemic, resulting in people losing their health insurance. People needed to save their money or spend it on vital things like food and rent. This created a problem, as most doctors saw a decline in patients and still aren’t getting the same amount of new patients.
With the release of the vaccine and jobs opening back up, there should be a new influx of patients that doctors need to capitalize on.
We are still continuing into the unknown. There are many things to worry about with maintaining and growing your medical practice, especially during a pandemic, but UPbook provides the opportunity for stability and growth.
Now more than ever, people are relying on answered phone calls to know your practice is open and operating normally. Google can no longer be trusted with updated hours or procedures, so if you miss a call, that may lead callers to believe your practice is closed temporarily or even permanently.
Answering every single call that comes through your practice is critical to maintaining loyalty and gaining new customers. Whether you miss a call because your staff is busy with in-person patients, you’re understaffed, or maybe all your phone lines are busy, it can lead to missed opportunities which leads to missed revenue. In fact, 92% of people who call a local business but don’t get through to a live person will not leave a voicemail and will not call back.
With UPbook Answers Concierge, every phone call will be answered in a warm, caring manner. They serve as your back-up front desk and will take the patient information and reason for the call, then promptly email you the details.
This can combat burnout and employee turnover, since it takes away at least one pressure from your employees and will allow them to give their full attention to other tasks they may be performing at the time of the call. It ensures no patient will go unheard and their needs will be met, leading to fewer patients lost.
Your medical practice could be missing out on at least $65,000 in unclaimed missed call revenue. That’s something that you cannot afford while still dealing with COVID.