Bombarded with information about Covid-19? Probably.
I don’t want to add to the information overload, but here a few points left to address. I promise I’ll be brief!
So, will we see a full-scale outbreak of the coronavirus in the US?
Who knows? But since we don’t know what the future holds, it’s prudent to prepare, just in case.
No doubt, people are afraid. And fear is a mighty force! Left unchecked, it can lead to mass hysteria and herd mentality…
Over the past few days and weeks, we’ve seen people hoard anything from toilet paper to protective equipment to food. There’ve been attacks on Asian Americans, blaming them for the virus. And there’s been an abundance of conspiracy theories making the rounds.
And while it’s ok to be afraid, it’s not ok to hurt others or hoard items needed by health care workers should there be a full-blown outbreak.
Let’s be smart! Let’s take reasonable precautions, but let’s not panic, because panic isn’t going to help any of us!
No Crystal Ball
If only we could take a peek and see what lies ahead. But unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to tell what’s lurking around the corner.
But regardless of what may or may not happen, it’s reasonable to expect some degree of disruption to life and business. And it’s best to be prepared.
Business disruptions may come in many forms. They range from natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, and tornadoes to human-made ones, including terror attacks, equipment failures, shootings, and data hacking, just to name a few.
Thankfully, viral outbreaks like the current one, don’t happen often. Yet they still result in disruption to day-to-day life and business.
Ideally, you’d have a disaster plan in place, outlining how you would respond in case of disaster and the steps you would take to get your business or practice back on its feet.
So, do you have a disaster plan for your practice? Congratulations if you do.
But if you don’t, now is the time to develop a plan, no matter how basic or rudimentary.
Take time to think about what you would do in case your practice slowed down or needed to shut down for some time?
- How would you respond?
- How would you communicate with employees and patients?
- Could you and your business survive the disruption?
- What would do to get your business back on its feet?
Human-made disasters can reach you and your business no matter where you are, unlike natural disasters, who seem to be somewhat location dependent.
- Fires and earthquakes in California
- Tornados in the Midwest
- Hurricanes along the eastern seaboard
3 Steps to Prepare
While some disasters, natural or human-made, may cause temporary business disruptions, others could result in prolonged closures, or lead to temporary or permanent relocation of the business.
Since we don’t know what to expect with the Covid-19 crisis, here are 3 simple steps to take now to get prepared for what may or may not come to pass.
If you have employees, it’s time to talk.
What are your protocols for getting in touch with them? Will you call, email, text, or use social media to communicate with them? Decide on one primary and one backup channel to use in case of a disruption or shutdown.
What is your protocol for getting in touch with patients in case the virus should impact your town? Will you call every single patient, post relevant information to your website or social media? How will you keep your patients up to date? Are you prepared to see patients via telemedicine in case you won’t be able to see them in your office? No matter the channel, have a process in place to keep your website and social media pages current with up to date practice information.
#2 Financial Survival
In the event your state or city should be affected by the virus, chances are your practice will be too. There may be fewer patients coming through your doors, resulting in a loss in revenue and a temporary decrease in cash flow for your business.
Additionally, there could be disruption leading to delays with your billing company; there might also be delays in reimbursements.
How robust is the financial position of your practice? Would you be able to ride out the storm? Do you have the cash reserves to help you bridge a temporary drop or loss in cash flow?
If you have limited or no cash reserves, consider establishing a line of credit. Use it to help you stay afloat until things get back to normal.
While there is insurance coverage to help recover from all types of disasters, both for loss of income and property, there isn’t much when it comes to situations like Covid-19. Additionally, most small business owners don’t carry business interruption insurance, and chances are this type of interruption would not be covered.
Since some disruption to your practice is likely to occur, take steps to prepare by securing funds to survive a cashflow crunch.
#3 The Supply Chain
One of the problems with the outbreak is the disruption it causes to the global supply chain. As a result, we’ve seen wild fluctuations in stock prices and lowered earnings projections across the board.
So what is a supply chain, and why should you care?
A supply chain is a network or chain between a company and its suppliers of parts to produce the finished product sold to customers. A supply chain may be comprised of local, national, and international suppliers. As you can imagine, most products contain numerous parts that could come from anywhere.
Parts or ingredients may come from within the US or Canada, or they may be sourced from China, Korea, India, or Europe, amongst others. Regardless of where a part originates, as the virus is making its way across the globe we could see more disruptions to production and the workforce.
And here’s how it might affect your practice. You may not be able to take delivery on day-to-day, or specialty practice supplies, potentially for an extended time.
And that’s why it is prudent to take steps now. Take stock of the supplies you need now and over the next weeks to months. Talk to your suppliers. Place your orders allowing for extra delivery times due to possible delays. Find alternate suppliers if need be. Network with your colleagues and see if you can help each other through any disruptions in supply.
Let’s hope Covid-19 will be behind us soon. In the meantime, it’s critical to take steps to prepare as best we can.
At very minimum, take time to think through “what-if scenarios” and develop basic strategies to help you respond.
Last but not least, take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your staff while you help others. Stay safe!
Join the conversation by leaving a comment or question below…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“
Very relevant information. I am at this crossroads as we speak. I was looking forward to opening my doors in 2 weeks. The unknown is frightening. I do have access to some cash flow, but it I am at the point of dismay. I do have telehealth services, but I do not have patients. Hence I will not have an income, even minute. It is very concerning for me. I am praying and hoping that we get pass this soon.
Stephanie, I have to agree…the unknown is frightening to all of us. And it’s a challenge as well. Part of your startup should be intensive marketing. Make sure you are known in your community. There are several articles on this blog about marketing. Good luck and keep us posted!
We are owners of a surgical /wound care practice. The mayor has asked that the citizens of Georgia stay home except for essential workers. I am planning to staff my office with the surgeon and 2 nurse practitioners during this time. I will give them the PTO up front for 2 weeks. Can you advise as what to do after that?
Luckily, I make house calls already so i am very used to going out to their homes instead of them coming to our office. However, I still have a little anxiety in me when I walk in to their homes, even when I’m fully gloved with mask on. Thankfully, telehealth will be useful for my non-essential visits.
Karen, I’m not sure I am understanding your question. Are these employees in your office or contract workers? I’m going to assume they are employees (you cannot give 1099 workers PTO), and if so, are you just giving your employees 2 weeks of PTO pay, like a “hazard pay”?
Telehealth is crucial right now. Protect yourself and stay healthy!