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MGMA: The COVID Impact on Medical Practices

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   May 10, 2021

MGMA survey identified the top impacts the pandemic had on medical practices, including patient volumes, compensation, and costs.

MGMA released a report Thursday afternoon underscoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical practices.

The report identified the challenges faced by physician practices and medical groups due to the pandemic, including declining patient volumes, effects on compensation, and cost concerns.

Almost one-third of healthcare leaders reported an unexpected physician retirement last year as clinical staffers dealt with unprecedented stress related to treating infected patients.

Notably, almost every physician practice reported a drop in patient volume in April 2020, but by June, 87% of practices reported recovered some of their patient volumes. Similarly, wRVUs saw a fast recovery, and by June, had near or above the reported levels for February and March.

More than 80% of healthcare leaders reported that some or all their providers' compensation were affected by the pandemic. Surgical and nonsurgical physicians saw the largest decrease in compensation from the beginning of the pandemic into the summer of 2020.

"The data tells the story of a very challenging time in history and how quickly and creatively a majority of practices were able to pivot and survive," Andrew Swanson, MPA, CMPE, MGMA vice president of industry insights, said in a statement. "To sustain patient care and volume, support staff working remotely, enhancing safety procedures and embracing telehealth, practice leaders and healthcare workers adapted to extraordinary levels to overcome the pandemic’s impact."

The report also identified the following key impacts on medical practices:

  • Medical practices saw total operating costs decrease due to increased PPE costs and decreased patient volumes, which lead to spending cuts elsewhere.
  • Nearly every respondent reported the total cost of PPE increased, and 15% said the cost increased by more than 100%.

Additionally, the report shared six factors that healthcare leaders identified as helping their medical practices survive the impacts of the pandemic:

  1. Rapid and efficient response to relief aid efforts
  2. Staffing stability and resilience
  3. Finding the correct telehealth offerings to utilize for their practices
  4. Reexamining payments and collections for patients
  5. Keeping communication and engagement open with patients through digital means and phone calls
  6. Addressing concerns of employee well-being

Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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