We brought physician and industry leaders together last week for a live webinar to examine the current state of the private practice as well as its viability over the next few months. Our panel offered insights and inspiration for remaining productive, proactive and positive as we work towards a return to business.
Last week, we hosted our first live webinar that brought physician and industry leaders together to discuss key issues including strategies, staffing and viability of the virtual practice; tips for navigating the Payment Protection Program (PPP); and inspiration and motivation for remaining productive, proactive and positive as we work towards a return to business.
Moderated by Randolph Waldman, M.D., Lexington, Ky., Medical Advisor for Aesthetic Authority, our panel included:
Together, they generated a snapshot of what the private practice currently looks like, as well as viability over the next few months, including financial issues and preparing to reopen the aesthetic practice.
As of mid-March, most elective treatments were no longer being performed in the private practice.
Dr. Pozner says his last surgery was March 20, and the first thing he did was to sit down with his office manager to examine the practice’s finances to figure out, “How long can we go financially, given this situation?”
With regard to deposits for scheduled surgeries that wouldn’t be taking place, “Surprisingly, not many people asked for their money back.”
Dr. Waldman had a similar experience. He expected patients who had placed deposits for surgical procedures to want their money back.
“We budgeted for more refunds. But I was surprised that people have left their money on the books. Assuming we can get rescheduled in a reasonable period of time, which we still don't know in Kentucky,” he said.
Next, Dr. Pozner said, was figuring out what to do with his staff to keep them employed and maintain productivity.
“We split the staff into two. They come in every other day, and we continue to pay everybody. What we did as we went through our photobooks. We went through reviews. We cleaned the office. We cleaned our rooms. We went through every piece of equipment in the operating room. We had multiple marketing meetings. I went back and we wrote a couple of papers. We finished some things that we really had not been working on. And we’re just getting ready,” he said.
Dr. Pozner said he still goes into the office daily.
Dermatologist panelists Drs. Taub and Nestor said they’re still seeing patients fairly regularly for essential services. According to Dr. Taub, this is one of the benefits of being a dermatologist right now.
“… from 9 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday, [we are open] for what we call ‘essential services,’ which would include new rashes that were painful, abscesses, really concerning lesions. Sometimes it's hard to tell over the phone, what's going to be concerning or not.”
In these cases, Dr. Taub said she has patients send photos.
In terms of seeing patients in the office, Dr. Taub said it hasn’t been too difficult to maintain safe distancing practices. “We have a pretty large office. We had patients check in from the parking lot, actually. And then we would text them and we're ready for them. And so there weren’t people waiting in the waiting room.”
Another financial positive includes a boost in online product sales. Dr. Taub says by passing on to patients the discounts she is getting from product manufacturers, and email marketing these to her patient list, “We've had more sales on our internet than we've ever had before. And we also started a delivery service.”
While most everyone has applied at this point, not everyone has received the money, according to panelists. When you do, there are couple of critical PPP loan details to take note of:
For forgiveness, 75% of the money that you want forgiven has to be used for payroll (including yourself)
The 8-week clock starts 10 days after the origination agreement is signed.
Doctors qualify up to $100,000 maximum per year, prorated by the month.
According to Allyson Avila, “…you have a 6-month deferral period. And I think you can get up to two years and it's at 1% interest. So even if you're not going to use this money for your payroll or something that would be forgiven — if you need it to roll your business or to fund your business — if for funding it's pretty much the cheapest loan that you'll ever get.”
Reopening the Practice
When you can reopen the practice doors, you’ve got to think about it from the patient’s perspective, said Maley.
Patients may ask themselves, “Is this going to be a safe visit for me? And should I do it or should I wait?”
She suggested creating a video that shows empathy and safety — “all the things you're going to do to protect them when they visit you,” she said.
“You’ve got staff with time on their hands. Get some training. Do some projects you never have time to do, including, for example, collecting patient stories that you can share on your digital properties.”
Most importantly, she advised, fine tune your processes now so that when the doors reopen, you’re a well-oiled machine.
“Start from, here's our marketing, this is how we attract new patients, then what's the next step?” Look at the entire process, she said, from sending email, managing patient opt-ins, and so on. Other things to consider taking some time with include newsletters, pictures, videos, website language, how to answer the phone and virtual consult processes.