97% of physician practices experiencing financial hardship during pandemic, ‘shocking’ survey finds

About 97% of physician practices are experiencing a negative financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a “shocking” survey released Tuesday.

Another 55% said they’ve endured decreases in revenue since the public emergency started in the U.S. last month, and 60% reported dips in patient volume. The grim numbers come from a new poll of 724 physician practice leaders, conducted this month by the Medical Group Management Association.

“Our new data reflect a shocking decline in the number of patients seeking non-COVID-19 medical care during this crisis,” said Anders Gilberg, senior VP of government affairs for the MGMA, which represents 55,000 practice leaders across the country, including radiology.  “Patients are foregoing necessary preventive and even acute care out of fear of exposure. Medical practices are struggling to keep their doors open as volume collapses.”

Leaders are taking various actions to address dwindling business over the past month, the association found. About 48% of respondents said they’ve temporarily furloughed staffers, while another 22% have permanently laid off workers. Many were already lean in head counts—with about 75% of survey respondents part of independent practices employing 50 full-time employees or less.

One unnamed respondent shared that, in addition to plummeting patient visits and revenues, they’ve also grappled with rising costs for telehealth technology to keep docs at home, and additional PPE for those in the office.

MGMA and its members are concerned about what will happen once the pandemic clears and providers are hit with a surge of built-up demand.

“The nation faces a second-wave access crisis when the pent-up demand for non-COVID-19 care is released and the rest of our healthcare system is off-line as a result of the pandemic,” Gilberg added.