Inmediata

Blog – Should you reopen your medical practice to in-person visits?

Here’s what your industry peers are doing.

Inmediata recently conducted a survey of 437 primary care practices in Puerto Rico to understand the change in behavior of providers opening their medical practice to in-office patient visits.  In the response from the survey over 64% of the respondents were physicians. 

On, April 19, 2020 CMS and the local government in Puerto Rico authorized that physician offices could re-open their facilities for Non-emergent/Non-COVID-19 healthcare services.  One question from the survey asked, “Have you reopened your practice to patients in person?”.  71% of respondents said yes, while 29% said no.  Based on this response and others from the survey, it appears that offices are opening, and that telemedicine is here to stay.

Of those that said they were using telemedicine, 215 said they planned to continue using telemedicine.  Assuming technology and reimbursement continue to work, the Pandemic seems to have finally kick started the use of telemedicine, which was expected to be adopted by the market sooner than now.

29% of the respondents whose practices have not yet reopened were asked, “if you have not re-opened, when do you plan to reopen to patients in person?”  Almost half said they’re still not sure when they will do it.   Are these concerns related to safety, reimbursement or some other factors we should understand?   We will have to wait for another survey for now to really understand why people said no, but below is a summary of the complete survey:

  • Have you reopened your medical practice to patients in person?
    • Yes- 71%
    • No- 29%
  • If no, when do you plan to open your practice to patients in person?
    • Within a week- 17%
    • A month- 15%
    • Not sure- 45%
    • Other- 21%
  • If yes, what type of schedule are you maintaining?
    • Normal- 31%
    • Limited- 61%
    • Emergent Only- 5%
  • Is your practice utilizing telehealth?
    • Yes-60%
    • No- 40%
  • If yes, does your practice intend to continue providing telemedicine visits in the future?
    • Yes-73%
    • No- 27% 

Should we be concerned?

While the Pandemic continues, there remains serious concerns about patients not receiving routine care and potential delays in treatment for more serious problems because of problems accessing care.  Hopefully, time will help to get physicians back in the office and that telemedicine can have some impact on capacity. 

If your medical practice is trying to make sense of a reopening strategy and the steps to resume non-essential procedures and begin managing a backlog of patient visits that could not be addressed via telehealth services, CMS has provided medical practices a reopening checklist to outline the various financial, operational, staffing and procedural considerations to resume operations and ramp up work in the coming weeks and months, depending on your locality and state.

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