3 Lessons from A Pediatric Practice As They Prepare For a New Tomorrow

As your pediatric practice emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepares for the recovery phase, we thought it would be helpful to hear what other community members are doing to plan for the future. Kateri Haskett, CEO of Pediatric Associates PSC in Northern Kentucky, shared some useful strategies that she and her team members learned as a result of the crisis.

During the most intense and uncertain parts of the pandemic, Kateri navigated difficult situations. For example, the Pediatric Associates leadership asked staff members to volunteer for reduced hours, decided to furlough providers, reduced partners’ compensation, and applied and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the Small Business Administration.

While the practice came through that difficult, unprecedented time, Kateri has learned some valuable lessons — many of which will influence the way Pediatric Associates operates and serves patients in the future. Here are three takeaways that can provide direction for your pediatric practice as you move forward to a new tomorrow.

Diversify Vendor Relationships

Kateri began the PPP loan process with Pediatric Associates’ usual bank, but there were some issues that prompted her to reach out to other financial institutions. When those banks hesitated because they were prioritizing their existing customers, Kateri realized she needed a broader base of vendors, especially in banking.

“One of those other banks was able to assist us, and we were very relieved that went through,” Kateri said. “In the future, we need to have multiple relationships to tap into when we need anything.”

Another area where Kateri saw immense value in having multiple vendor relationships was medical surgical supplies. While Pediatric Associates’ vendor did a great job, having a broader base of suppliers would have served the practice better and made the process of obtaining PPE easier.

Implement Pre-Registration Procedures

To limit the amount of physical contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pediatric Associates began doing pre-registration for patients. On the day before scheduled appointments, the front desk staff called patients’ parents and checked demographics, verified insurance, and collected a copay or past-due balances.

“When they walk in the door, it’s pretty quick,” Kateri explained. “We might have to make a copy of an insurance card, but we can get them straight to an exam room, which they love. If they’ve got an anxious little one with them, they don’t need to spend a lot of time talking to us.”

Other benefits of pre-registration include:

  • Patients and parents have more privacy over the phone than in a waiting room where others can overhear.
  • Parents have time to research and resolve any problems with insurance coverage or past-due balances.
  • Staff members are able to make pre-registration calls when it’s convenient for them.
  • When patients arrive, employees can focus on connecting with the children on a personal level, rather than the logistics of the pediatric practice business.

Communicate With Patients Creatively

In addition to a weekly email to all patients, Pediatric Associates began using video to communicate. For example, instead of regular in-person meetings with expectant parents, the practice produced an informational video.

“Doing videos had been on my wish list for over three years, so I was thrilled we finally had that chance,” Kateri recalled. “Now our providers are doing introductory videos, and we are making them available on our website and YouTube channel.”

Pediatric Associates is also exploring other ideas for multimedia projects, such as brief, educational videos on topics like asthma and bedwetting. “We need to meet patients where they are,” Kateri added. “If patients want video, let’s give it to them.”

Despite some challenges during this uncertain time, Pediatric Associates managed to find light in the darkness. The pandemic allowed the furloughed physicians to have a break, and it provided extra time for cleaning at the office. “We’ve been able to keep things positive in a difficult time,” Kateri said. “There have been forced opportunities because of COVID. It gave us the time and the impetus to move certain projects to the front of the line and really get them going.”

Alisa Vaughn, CMPE

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