There is no denying that we live in unpredictable times. Medical practices are seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard spot as the world deals with an ongoing health crisis. The expertise held by the doctors and nurses who staff them is widely considered to be the nation’s most valuable resource, while their physical locations are some of the most avoided spaces in America. Sudden property closure has become a reality for many.
Like many other independently owned businesses, there are medical practices that are currently suffering financial losses as non-emergency care slows. The public largely avoids preventative care now. None of us are sure how long the situation will last or how it will evolve. That makes the risk of sudden closure more real than ever before.
The Chance of Sudden Closure
When you first start a practice, you should have a protocol in place in case of sudden property closure. Sudden closure of your practice may occur due to illness, death, or other circumstances beyond your control. Regardless of the reason, there is a lot of information that has to be properly delivered to give your patients the healthy transition required by your state medical board, so you should put a plan in place now. Even if the closure is temporary, you will need to have reliable pathways for communicating with patients and ensuring their records are accessible to them.
Getting Legal Help
If a worst-case scenario does occur, and you have to close your medical practice or a colleague’s without notice, you will have a long list of people to notify. Start with a lawyer. Although we can give general advice based on accrued knowledge, you will need reliable legal counsel to navigate your specific situation. Ask them to help you draw up a list of everything that needs doing and a reasonable timetable.
Your lawyer will advise you regarding employees and patients. But it is important that both parties feel the message is as sincere as possible. Losing a place of work or a reliable medical practice is difficult news in the best of times. So, take a few moments to draft a message. Deliver it to the employees in-person, if at all possible. Ask your reception desk to help notify patients with upcoming appointments by phone.
For the rest of the patients, calling every single one of them may not be practical. Draft a personal letter that includes the date of closure. Also, make a list of local offices that you trust to provide for patients in the future. You may also send the same message through digital communication if that is the service the practice uses typically. For added security, check your state laws regarding patient abandonment. Also, update your official answering machine and post a neat sign on the door. Even in the case of sudden closure, you need to show that you did everything possible to inform patients of the change.
Dealing with the Paperwork
Once employees and patients are informed, work with the office administrator and Boulevard Medical Properties to build an action plan for the data held on-site in digital and physical form. You will need to find another local office that is willing to legally absorb your medical records. A contract will be necessary to ensure that they are liable for the documents. In addition, any unsigned documents should be sent back to the original agency.
These are general guidelines for what to expect in the event of sudden property closure. Based on the nature of your practice and local guidelines, there will be specific steps that are unique to your case. For this reason, it is imperative to keep an open dialog with legal counsel to ensure that the practice is successfully closed and the patients protected.