The spread of COVID-19 significantly impacted our way of life at home and at work within the first few weeks of its emergence. As a result, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as of April 5th, there are 304,826 total reported cases and 7,616 confirmed deaths with 55 jurisdictions reporting current cases in the U.S. Families have had to make adjustments to how they work, where they work and even when and how they educate their children. With the recent economic and physical stress this pandemic has caused, the healthcare and insurance industry has had to pivot in order to meet the needs of those who are ill while overhauling their day-to-day business model and approach. Here are a few things we are keeping our eye on at Signature Performance during this time.
Offshoring Healthcare Assistance Becomes Limited, Nonexistent
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has not only had an effect on the health of those in our communities and the economy, but many also anticipate the short and long-term stress it will place on the revenue cycle management industry within the healthcare system in the U.S. With many hospitals utilizing countries, such as India, for outsourcing their coding and/or billing needs, these hospitals may quickly find themselves short-handed once the recovery process of COVID-19 is underway.
“So far, there have been only a few more than sixteen hundred confirmed cases in India, and forty-five confirmed deaths, but a major outbreak in a country with huge public-health deficiencies is likely to have devastating, far-reaching consequences,” According to an article published by The New Yorker. “Since people who live in India often travel between different states for work, the lockdown also left hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stranded.”
As India is placed on a mandatory lockdown due to the sheer size of the population to help decrease the spread of COVID-19, outsourcing these administrative tasks will be nearly impossible. With India not having the infrastructure to send their employees home to work, a severe backlog of administrative demands can quickly accumulate. If the experts are correct and the pandemic causes a large disruption for India and other offshore outsourcing locations across the globe, Signature Performance will be ready to lend a hand in support of keeping administrative and coding operations flowing. This will help providers avoid any unnecessary backlogs.
COVID-19 not only placed a major disruption in the healthcare industry, but it also is responsible for causing disruption within the workforce in the United States. The quick spread of COVID-19 forced companies of every size to reevaluate their day-to-day workflow in order to accommodate a remote setup. Unfortunately, there are also circumstances for certain companies that make conducting business impossible, leaving many in limbo or unemployed. Associates are now having to find different ways to be productive without their typical office surroundings and coworkers.
According to a recent Gallup article, 29% of U.S. workers say employers have cut jobs, cut hours or frozen hiring, 52% say cutbacks at work are affecting their financial situation and 81% expect a negative effect on their workplace from COVID-19.
At Signature Performance, we have continued to make communication a priority. By establishing a reliable cadence of information and implementing proactive behaviors, everyone involved in the organization’s workflow adjustment can benefit. During this unusual time, it is important for us to not only ensure that our Associates are getting the most factual information possible, but we also want to ensure that they are free to fully engage and use their talents and strengths every day at work as things around them change, like working remotely. Our work may look different but the value we bring to the industry can be even more impactful. Our Associates thrive on knowing that we are supporting those who are standing on the front lines of this healthcare crisis.
Innovations in Healthcare During a Pandemic
When global health events hit, we can often lose sight of the innovation happening within our healthcare system during the chaos and stress of the event. Over the last few weeks, COVID-19 has forced physicians, healthcare and other industrial experts around the world to innovate one-of-a-kind solutions in order to limit the severity, spread and long-term effects of this novel virus.
While some industries put their bread and butter products on hold to make medical equipment to limit shortages of certain medical devices or supplies, one of the biggest shifts in healthcare during this unusual time is the swift implementation of telemedicine. By using this technology, physicians are able to advise and send treatment information via camera to those who are in need without risking exposure of the patient’s symptoms to the general public. This shift in care has also caused a shift in the overall healthcare experience.
By using telehealth services, physicians are able to continue to engage and connect to their patients and the patients can receive the care they need from the comfort of their own home. This innovation is particularly important as state and federal officials continue telling families to stay home in order to prevent the further spread of germs. Other benefits of a telehealth platform during this time include the expansion of access, patients do not need to take time off of work and do not need to consider transportation costs.
Insurance Coverage Adjustments
With COVID-19 sweeping through the healthcare industry, insurance companies have had to pivot in order to make care accessible to those who need it. Since the spread of COVID-19, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) lifted Medicare restrictions on the use of telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency. As of March 6th and through the end of what is being considered a public health crisis, Medicare will pay physicians for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits for all diagnoses, not just services related to COVID-19.
Major insurance companies like Cigna and Humana announced that they would cover the high-cost associated with COVID-19 if one of their policyholders needed treatment. Aetna also announced that they will cover costs for hospital admissions that are related to the virus. As of right now, Aetna and Cigna are pledging to waive COVID-19 treatment costs through qualified medical bills that are incurred until June 1, 2020. Humana’s policy has not yet announced an end date. As payers look to do their part in helping make sure care and treatment of this disease is covered and access is granted, it becomes more important than ever that the administrative relationship between payers and providers is strong. That’s where Signature can help with our unique understanding of the claims process and importance of contractual responsibilities, we can help both payers and providers create win/win scenarios.
At Signature Performance, we believe the healthcare industry in the United States deserves only the best, and that sentiment is what motivates our dedicated team to do our very best each and every day. It’s our calling to bend the curve of healthcare administration costs by improving the overall quality and experience while minimizing resources and cost. To learn more about Signature Performance, contact our team today or check out our career page for a list of our latest career opportunities.
Doug Bilbrey is the Vice President of Business Development at Signature Performance Inc., in Omaha, NE. Signature Performance is an industry leader in reducing healthcare administration costs for private and public healthcare sectors. Our unmatched experience in serving both the payer and provider side of healthcare financial management allows us to implement innovative solutions for every administrative demand.