Cover Story

Listening to Practices on COVID-19

How Curi has responded to practices' need for support during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 health crisis has changed the practice of medicine, perhaps in lasting ways—and brought Curi the opportunity to comprehensively deliver on our mission of helping physicians in medicine, business, and life.

We understood early in the pandemic that having a deep understanding of physicians’ and practices’ needs was going to be essential to giving them the support they needed from us. In our headquarters state, Curi partnered with the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) and North Carolina Medical Group Managers Association (NCMGMA) to conduct a weekly Practice Data Survey among North Carolina practices exploring the many challenges physicians face. For national data, we drew on information gathered by the Physicians Foundation.

The Survey Said

When we sent out the first Practice Data Survey in April, nearly 40% of respondents told us they were operating with reduced hours. In the months that followed, 90% of practices reported revenue declines of at least 25%, and more than half of respondents said revenue had dropped more than 50%. Nationwide, the Physicians Foundation survey reported that 72% of respondents across the U.S. experienced revenue loss as a direct result of COVID-19.

Once it became clear that traditional in-person visits would not be a viable solution for ongoing care, practices were forced to begin practicing medicine via telehealth. Eighty-six percent of the Practice Data Survey respondents reported that prior to COVID-19, their practice had never used telehealth. Since April, all but 13% of respondents said they had implemented telehealth offerings within their practice.

These mounting challenges exacerbated existing issues of stress and burnout among physicians, and well-being became another major concern. The Physicians Foundation reported that 50% of U.S. physicians surveyed experienced inappropriate anger, tearfulness, or anxiety as a result of COVID-19’s effects on their practice or employment, yet only 13% sought medical attention for mental health problems.

Furthermore, once practices began to reopen, they reported difficulty reengaging patients for in-office visits, and 70% of Practice Data Survey respondents reported that patients expressed reluctance to schedule in-person services when contacted.

We understood early in the pandemic that having a deep understanding of physicians’ and practices’ needs was going to be essential to giving them the support they needed from us.

A Helping Hand

The information gathered in seven months of surveys helped inform us about the many challenges physicians and practices are facing. Using this information, we built a range of offerings and member resources to help both Curi members and the entire medical community navigate this dramatically altered landscape. Our response included the following:

  • Tools and Resources: As these resources became necessary, Curi developed practice reopening, telehealth, staff management, and patient management guidance. Members also received access to free on-call service from our Risk Management experts.
  • Coverage Support: Curi suspended all premium invoicing from March 1 to June 30, allowed suspended medical professional liability coverage for practices needing to close temporarily, and suspended leave of absence (LOA) coverage for furloughed physicians and advanced practice providers.
  • Member Emails: Our team of experts came together to identify and share the latest “need-to-know” COVID information and resources directly to our members’ inboxes—daily at first, and every few days as the pandemic continued and the volume of news slowed down.
  • Practice Command Center: We built a COVID-specific landing page within the Curi website offering easy access to FAQs, resources, and the latest news and updates.
  • Member Services: Curi representatives have been available for members to discuss how to handle important topics such as telehealth, billing, and LOAs during the COVID crisis. We also offered human resources consultation via HR|Experts.
  • Practice Management Consulting: We provided Curi members with up to one hour of free consulting services from Curi partners Medical Management Associates and Smith Anderson to help them navigate the pandemic.
  • Webinars: We produced a series of six COVID-specific webinars, presented both by the Curi team and external experts, offering in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues faced by members.

What’s Next?

Many medical practices are finding their footing as we near the end of 2020, but new challenges and concerns are presenting themselves. A few of the issues we are following closely are patient reengagement, the current and future malpractice claims landscape, telehealth after COVID-19, and physician well-being.

Inspired by our members’ determination in the face of danger and uncertainty, the Curi team has approached this crisis as an opportunity to help physicians and practices thrive. We look forward to working with you through the next phases of this pandemic, and beyond.

Letter From the CEO

Winter 2020

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