If you have taken your child to the doctor in the past few weeks, you have probably noticed a few changes to your pediatric care experience. Of course, everyone is wearing a mask, entering patient information onto their phone and staying 6 feet apart. These are obvious and necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.
But did you notice that the HVAC filters have been upgraded utilizing a HEPA filtration and Air Purification System? Or that UV light technology has been installed at each of the entrances to the building? Or perhaps you didn’t experience a waiting room at all. You simply received a text on your phone with instructions to head directly to a specific exam room.
Nationwide, there are about 60,000 general pediatricians and 30,000 pediatric subspecialties, according to the American Medical Association. The success of these practices is driven largely by demographics. The profitability of each pediatric practice is based on efficient operations and reimbursement rates.
The business of pediatric care is facing some headwinds with COVID-19 and more direct competition, but appears to be weathering the storm and continuing to grow.
Here are some of the trends affecting these practices:
Medical Innovations Within Pediatric Care
COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated medical innovations for treating children. The telemedicine industry is a prime example of a technology fast track which helps to reduce unnecessary hospital visits, keep children patients from spreading disease and allow the pediatric clinics to stay under capacity as a result.
Not all states currently allow telehealth treatments for children; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics is working hard at the Federal level with Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) to reduce the barriers and increase health insurance coverage. Children will at some time still need to physically go see their doctor, and technology is coming to the rescue.
To encourage innovation in this area, the Nation Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation has created a competition focused on COVI-19 related pediatric medical devices to improve the diagnosing and treatment of children during a pandemic. The winners receive a grant of up to $50,000 and will be announced July 20th, 2020.
Pediatric Planning and Design Considerations
Pediatricians diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, provide immunizations and monitor patient’s growth to adulthood. Some subspecialties include pediatric cardiology, pediatric critical care, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric hematology/oncology and neonatology.
The Planning and Design considerations for pediatric care include waiting areas, patient throughput, staff workflows and overall infection control. Distracting children with games that control touching are quickly being implemented in children’s waiting rooms. Virtual games allow kids to stay busy during their wait without spreading germs. COVID-19 driven innovations such as thermal temperature screening cameras, enhanced filtrations systems and ultraviolet light strategy are all being deployed to kill germs and provide a safer environment for children.
The Future of Pediatric Care
Pediatricians are facing more direct competition with nearby walk in clinics, which include chain pharmacies and mass merchandisers, such as Walmart. The retail clinics offer limited serviced such as immunizations and basic treatment, which is causing pediatricians to stay open on weekends and evenings.
However, the outlook for pediatric growth is strong. According to Dunn & Bradstreet, US consumer prices for medical services, an indicator of profitability for pediatric offices, rose 5.1% in November 2019 compared to the same month in 2018. And total US revenue for physicians’ offices, including pediatrics, rose 3.1% in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the previous year. The business of treating children is facing some headwinds with COVID-19 and more direct competition, but appears to be weathering the storm and continuing to grow.
Recentric continues to look for development and acquisition opportunities to meet the growing demand for larger, out-patient medical facilities. This strategy allows us to take advantage of the growing need for these facilities and offer new and exciting opportunities to our current and future investors.