Survey: Providers say it could take year or more for revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels

Medical groups and integrated health systems say in a recent survey it will take at least a year for revenue to return for pre-pandemic levels, underscoring the need for more relief funding from Congress.

The survey released Tuesday by the American Medical Group Association also highlights the extent of the financial pain due to the pandemic, which has caused patient volumes to plummet and elective surgical procedures to be postponed.

“Health systems and medical groups are operating under a cloud of financial uncertainty that threatens their ability to continue to deliver the best care to their communities,” said AMGA President and CEO Jerry Penso, M.D., in a statement.

AMGA found 41% of health systems and 36% of medical groups believe that it will take at least a year before revenues return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

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Another 23% of systems and 28% of medical groups don’t know when their revenue will return to normal.

Nearly 90% of both medical groups and health systems surveyed say their revenue has declined by 25% or more. In addition, 40% of medical groups and 20% of health systems report their monthly health losses are more than 50%.

At the same time, almost all health systems (92%) and medical groups (97%) expect increases in personal protective equipment. Health systems have had to scramble to get enough PPE to handle COVID-19 cases.

The expansion of telehealth during the pandemic has also been a boon for providers to see patients afraid of going to the clinic or hospital. However, these providers have had to devote additional costs to setting up telehealth infrastructure. The survey found 87% of systems and 91% of medical groups are expecting increases in telehealth infrastructure costs.

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The survey of 95 respondents that includes 59 integrated health systems and 36 independent medical groups conducted late last month underscores the need for additional financial help, AMGA said.

Congress has so far passed $175 billion in provider relief funding, but provider groups are urging them to pass more. While the House passed a $3 trillion package that includes another $100 billion for providers, that legislation has languished in the Senate where Republicans want to see how the remaining funding has been distributed.

“These survey findings demonstrate that more immediate assistance is needed if medical groups and integrated health systems are to continue meeting the needs of patients—both during and after the pandemic,” AMGA said.