Response to COVID-19
Prior to the start of the pandemic, East Bay Pediatrics’ goal was to see 22 patients per provider each day. Of course, no one expected that their goals for 2020 would change so drastically. Dr. Vo reports that while they saw an initial 40% decrease in their daily visits, they worked back up to about 80% of 2019’s visits by the latter half of 2020, and their charges have only decreased about 10%, helping them maintain the revenue they need to recover.
By staggering physician schedules, separating well visits and sick visits, and establishing thorough cleaning regimens, East Bay Pediatrics has made patients feel comfortable to come into the office for both “essential well visits” (visits for vaccines, for chronic illness, or long term medication) and sick visits. Telemedicine visits make up for the rest of the difference in productivity. They are also incredibly pleased that their families continue to return to their care because it means the many changes the practice has had to implement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are paying off and they are caring for the patients who need them most. East Bay Pediatrics worked hard to quickly recover patients and revenue while keeping patients, doctors and staff safe. Doing so has allowed them to show up for patients during a frightening time and to make sure their doors remain wide open for years to come.
Dr. Vo credits this turnaround to her team’s amazing flexibility. “It’s been amazing. Staff flexibility, doctor flexibility, the doctors all stagger now. All the lunches are staggered. One doctor does tele-health, and that doctor can either come in and use the computer in the office, or stay at home. I think we really have worked well together. We feel like this is the best for our families, our patients.”
PCC offered a host of tools and services early in the pandemic, such as Broadcast Messaging and PCC Chat early in the pandemic, which Dr. Vo says helped her practice stay afloat. Broadcast messaging allows a practice to message all patients or subsets of patients on changing hours, updates to safety requirements, as well as general news, events, and announcements. PCC Chat is an internal chat feature that allows staff to communicate in the office easily, keeping workflows moving without ever needing to leave the EHR.
The practice found that their trusted PCC reports and tools for patient recall were helpful during the pandemic. Reports and the Dashboard helped them see how payments for COVID-19 testing and telemedicine were doing, and patient recall helped the physicians weigh which patients to prioritize for essential visits, such as for vaccines.
As processes went remote and online almost overnight, broadcast messaging allowed PCC practices like East Bay Pediatrics to contact their patients remotely on how the practice was constantly adapting, from changes in their hours to how families could safely drive up for appointments and call to check in.
Dr. Vo explains that the support they had had setting up the Appointment Book before the pandemic was a huge relief. “I don’t see how we could have done the schedule, and the amount of changes that we’ve done to the schedule, without it.” With tools and support readily available, the team spirit has helped carry the practice through. While the pandemic resulted in a financial hit for many practices across the country, Dr. Vo says that after the challenges of the first half of 2020, East Bay Pediatrics had recovered well enough to return staff to full time and begin hiring again by the summer.
Another 30 Years?
“We’ve shown in the last six months that we really can make changes quickly,” says Dr. Vo of her practice’s resilience during the spring and summer of 2020.
Dr. Vo’s practice goals are clear, and just as long friendships highlight certain similarities, both East Bay Pediatrics and PCC look to the future with changing parental expectations and patient experience in mind. “What we want is to be able to maintain a similar level of patient population, and we want to be able to make the changes to keep us fresh and to keep us a desirable practice for families. And I think that we don’t necessarily need to grow to do that. We don’t want to get too big,” Dr. Vo explains, “But we also want to be big enough. I just worry that if we keep getting bigger, then we get to the point where we don’t have as good customer service.”
Some of East Bay Pediatrics’ favorite tools for customer service include intuitive telehealth appointment support within the EHR, the print-to-EHR feature to add documents into a patient’s record, and lab requisitions. Dr. Vo notes that PCC’s new features help them improve on their service goals continuously. “We want to be able to do that kind of thing so that we can be able to utilize EHR as fully as possible, and use it to try to have really good customer service, and I think we can.”
Despite all the changes the practice has had to undergo during the pandemic and over their distinguished history, Dr. Vo has full confidence in her team to adapt and grow in order to give their patients the best patient care around. With PCC on their side, East Bay Pediatrics looks forward to many more years of excellent service and support, even when the unexpected happens.