We still don't know the full impact COVID will have on healthcare organizations in the long term or short term for that matter. We are hearing about 50 to 80 percent declines in patient volume in the short term and estimated annual declines of 15 to 20 percent depending on the specialty. However, I also think there will be long-lasting changes in how PSAs and a physician compensation are structured as a result of the crisis.
Given the dramatic drop in volume over the past three months, we may see continued shifts away from independent practice and PSAs with clauses to protect against circumstances out of the physician’s control. The impact on value-based payments models is yet to be seen. Although there may be pressure to move away from productivity-based payment and incentives, the financial pressure is being felt across the industry will make it difficult to significantly change the emphasis on productivity. I also think we will see a surge in physician retirements and mergers with larger groups.
Perhaps the most immediate and dramatic change is the integration and success of telemedicine. As physicians and patients have engaged in thousands of virtual visits, contracts and payment models have been evolving to respond. We expect to see a lot of analysis to set appropriate compensation and productivity standards as telehealth is more fully integrated into physician practices in reimbursement.