Healthcare Sector: Gains and Losses From COVID-19

Jul 20, 2020 11:27:38 AM / by Joy Youell

When hospitals prepared for COVID-19, they did not expect this. As coronavirus cases fluctuate in the United States, patients and medical centers face uncertainty. Patients are nervous to return to doctors offices in fear of being infected. Medical practices, especially in rural areas, are shutting down due to a lack of patients. 

Practices with the resources to conduct telehealth visits are faring much better than others. Medical practice administrators are being forced to cut hours and lay off staff. On the other hand, hospital administrators are struggling to find enough staff to handle the influx of patients. As the dust settles, the effects of coronavirus on the medical field are becoming apparent. 

Continue reading to learn about the gains and losses within the medical field due to COVID-19.

358,000 New Jobs and Gains for Hospitals

Even though many practices are having to lay off employees, there has been a surge of new healthcare jobs. 358,000 new healthcare jobs opened up in late May and early June. With doctor shortages during the pandemic, these applicants were much needed. 

The jobs were opened in many different health industries including: dental, surgery, home healthcare, physicians offices and hospitals. This may only be temporary to keep up with the rising numbers of coronavirus patients. 

Experts say that healthcare jobs are changing with certain positions being eliminated and replaced with coronavirus-compatible positions. For example, telemedicine jobs are going to continue to increase while in-person healthcare jobs may decrease. 

This escalation in new jobs has benefitted many healthcare COVID-19 workers who have been searching for employment. 

Medicaid Expansions Due to COVID-19 Surges

On July 1, Oklahoma voted to expand Medicaid. Oklahoma has the second highest percentage of uninsured citizens. Uninsured persons are more likely to spread COVID-19 because they cannot afford care if they believe they have symptoms. 

Increasing affordable medical care helps to reduce case numbers. By expanding Medicaid, over 200,000 people will be eligible for insurance. Not only does this benefit unemployed and lower-income people, but it will also help rural medical centers that are struggling. The Medicaid expansion will provide relief to many concerned Oklahomans in the throes of unemployment caused by COVID-19.

American Hospital Association Predicts $120B in Losses

Medical centers are already feeling the enormous financial impact of COVID-19. Hospitals across America predict a bleak profit outcome for the years of 2020 and 2021. Hospital patient volumes continue to run below average with inpatient numbers at -19.5% and outpatient at -35%. 

A survey of 1,360 hospitals showed results that 67% believe that numbers will not return to baseline until next summer. COVID-19 hospital resources continue to dwindle as more people are becoming infected. Even though hospitals are receiving funding from state and federal governments, it is not enough to cover costs. Hospitals are predicted to lose $120 billion and that does not include costs for personal protective equipment, staff wages and equipment. 

Trinity Health $2B Revenue Loss and Staff Furloughs

Nonprofit major medical corporations have been recording detrimental losses. Trinity Health is one of these. The shortage of money due to coronavirus means that Trinity hospitals will continue furloughing and laying off staff. The hospital system projects that it will lose $2 billion by the fiscal year of 2021. 

Trinity has 92 facilities across the United States, each will have its own set of budget and staff cuts to fit local needs. While Trinity received about $600 million in COVID-19 relief funds, they still had to take out $1 billion worth of loans. It has furloughed 12% of its workers and expects to furlough even more. Trinity Health, and other medical nonprofits, has experienced major financial setbacks that may negatively impact its future operations. 

Primary Care Physicians Could Face $15B Hit

Healthcare data analysts have been doing extensive research on how COVID-19 may financially impact primary care physicians. Primary care physicians were not hit as hard as hospitals, but are less likely to bounce back from such huge financial losses. 

Researchers at Harvard concluded that there will be a revenue loss of at least $65,000 per physician. This is including the revenue made from telemedicine visits. Rural practices will have greater losses totalling $10,000 more. 

A different study predicts that practices will lose $15 billion in fee-for-service proceeds. If there is a second surge of COVID-19 patients within the next six months, there will be even greater losses that many practices will not recover from.

Billions for Nonprofit Health Systems in CARES Funding

Healthcare data analyst company, Healthcare Dive, took a look at the COVID-19 relief funding that major hospitals have received. Cash reserves for these medical nonprofits are beginning to dry up. Wages and certain maintenance costs are paid from cash reserves. 

While some hospitals have enough cash on hand for a year's worth of operation, others only have a third of that. Even then, these projections are based on average costs, not Coronavirus costs. The equipment, personal protection equipment and staff hiring alone are enough to eat up much of the reserve. 

Fortunately for many of these hospitals, they have received billions through CARES Act funding. This money will help to cover extra costs that hospitals are facing with large numbers of patients and more equipment. 

DocClocker for Healthcare Administration

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Tags: DocClocker, Healthcare news, IT healthcare news, Digital medical, COVID19, coronavirus

Joy Youell

Written by Joy Youell

Joy Youell writes about IT healthcare, digital medical innovations and improving patient experiences for DocClocker.