9 April 2020

Key takeaways

  • Assess any unnecessary business and personal costs to extend your financial runway
  • Consider streamlining operations to utilise resources in prioritised business areas
  • Be clear and transparent with your people about any business changes, to reassure employees and retain talent
  • Ask staff, trusted advisers and business partners how you can help each other.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing many businesses and industries to transform their ways of working, and the healthcare sector is no different. Australian medical practices that previously had stable incomes, predictable cashflows and operating processes, may need to adapt to a rapidly-changing environment.

To make the most of support from the Australian Government, financial institutions, and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), first you should triage your business.

As a medical business owner or consulting specialist, the coronavirus mitigation policies are starting to impact patient volumes in a way that may require you to adapt your business to stay financially fit.

Despite increases in the number of confirmed cases worldwide, Australian cases are comparatively low. However, emergency and intensive care departments continue to prepare for an escalation in COVID-19 patient numbers.

There is evidence that public uncertainty around self-isolation may be a contributing factor in the decline of patients presenting to healthcare providers with other acute or potentially life-threatening conditions, while patients may leave existing chronic conditions untreated, out of fear of catching the virus or breaching the law.1

This is one of the reasons why practices are equipping their clinicians and specialists with tools and training to leverage the new Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth rebates. There have been more than 1.5 million telehealth consultations since the Government made MBS codes more available2, with 125,000 on the first day.3

Your medical business health check

Although you may need to make decisions to sustain your business in these challenging times, it’s important to consider short-term requirements, and balance these against long-term business sustainability - keeping in mind that innovation and technological change may accelerate over this period.

If you plan to apply for government, ATO or financial institution assistance, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Ask your advisers
    • Get in contact with your accountant or business adviser, to understand cost structures within your practice, and form a plan for regular engagement during this period
  • Focus on business continuity
    • Review and update your business continuity plan, as required
      • Consider any high risk contingencies, such as a member of your team becoming impacted by COVID-19
    • Use collaboration tools or technology while working remotely to check in with employees and patients
    • Review staff and business practices to ensure you maximise efficiencies
  • Identify opportunities
    • Identify ongoing revenue streams, and consider emerging opportunities
    • Consider connecting with the public health system for external revenue sources
  • Scrutinise your costs
    • Model different scenarios against your liabilities
    • Review personal and business spending
    • Consider activities to preserve cash flow and liquidity
  • Patient communications
    • Review your marketing and communications process, to ensure patients and carers remain adequately informed
  • Review your options
    • Consider any additional funding alternatives, such as government schemes
    • Ensure that you understand the federal and state industrial laws that apply to your business and how they may impact you
    • Understand and seek access to any government support available to you

You’ll also need to consider how your business will be structured to regenerate in the future. Support staff are very important to patient experience and may hold a wealth of knowledge and organisational memory; the Government’s JobKeeper payment4 could help you to retain valuable talent. Ensure you’re communicating with your people about how you plan to go forward together, focusing on the health of your practice and your patients. Consider reaching out to your accountant, HR consultant, or your specialty college or professional association with any matters that you require clarity on.

How can we help?                                          

The Macquarie Healthcare team is here to help you throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with support for business customers.

To learn more, contact your Macquarie Relationship Manager, call 1300 812 673, or visit our Coronavirus Support Hub

Additional information

The information on this page has been prepared by Macquarie Business Banking, a division of Macquarie Bank Limited AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 237502 ("Macquarie") for general information purposes only, without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this general information, you must consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service.