Maximizing Operational Effectiveness and Finance During COVID-19

Mar 27, 2020 | COVID-19

Recently, Audigy Operations Manager Danielle Frank and Audigy Finance Manager Mackenzie Styger were asked how practices can maximize their operational effectiveness and finance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the team highlighted that there are three important considerations practices should take note of, specifically in the realms of:

1. Office precautions
2. Downtime planning
3. Financial Considerations

Office Precautions

Danielle Frank reiterates the need for each practice to consider creating and adhering to an infection control plan as outlined for by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For detailed resources related to office precautions and creating an infection control plan, as well as an example of how our Member practices are approaching this topic, we invite you to reference our blog on Health and Safety Considerations.

In addition to implementing an infection control plan, downtime planning offers an opportunity for practices to assess and implement inventory control.

For practices that are closed or providing only emergency services for their patients (such as drive-up services like repair pick up and drop off), inventory control allows for the opportunity to quite literally clean up their practices by freeing up counter space, sanitizing, and re-organizing to improve future operations.

For practices that remain open, inventory control should include re-stocking critical supplies that are needed to continue safe and sanitary as designated by the CDC.

Downtime Planning

For all practices, it is also important to clean up your database, remove unused appointment types, and check in on your practice’s referral sources.
Weekly proactive communication could include
• Scheduling patient updates
• Patient follow-up calls
• Appointment reminder calls
• Wellness calls

The use of telehealth measures — such as Zoom — and regular social media updates posted on your practice’s page are yet another way of keeping patients engaged with your practice and informed on how you are or are not able to serve them during this time.

For patients who are needing to be rescheduled because of COVID-19 threats, the SBU teams suggest indicating these patients as “COVID-19” so that when clinical hours resume, these patients have a clear path into an appointment, and, if necessary, can be prioritized depending on their needs.

Training opportunities also exist with respect to engaging your team with new updates to your OMS systems, manufacturer remote assist programs, or other platforms you currently use or have considered using to improve patient experience and practice operations.

Financial Considerations

Mackenzie Styger asks that practice owners take certain financial considerations into account and asks that they first look at cash reserves (i.e., cash on hand) and what resources are available to obtain cash (e.g., a line of credit) during this time. Audigy Members can leverage their Strategic Business Unit’s Finance Manager as a resource, but any trusted financial advisor can help you with understanding these financial considerations.

As part of your financial reviews, it is important to look at working capital, the cash entering the practice versus expenses that need to be paid out.

Doing so provides an increased resolution of the practice’s financial status. With the likely slow down in clinic operations, having office staff members collect on insurance reimbursement and accounts receivables is important to enhancing the financial health of the business.

For accounts payable, it behooves practice owners to have contact with hearing aid manufacturers to extend payment terms for cost of goods. The goal here is to increase cash on hand, while deferring accounts payables. A second objective is to ensure that at the conclusion of the pandemic, that the practice has employees in place to ensure that the practice is operating optimally.

Another important financial consideration? Forecasting for your practice’s future position. It is critical to look forward and determine essential versus non-essential expenses. It is important that business owners have these conversations with their financial advisor as considerations are made regarding which operating expenses to manage and to what degree they should be managed.

If you have questions about other ways in which practices are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our resource page, or contact Audigy directly. Now, more than ever, it’s time for leaders in our industry to pull together in helping our professional peers navigate this crisis.

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