Providers adjust their staffing models

Friday, July 17, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – More than 80% of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll reported shifting all or part of their workforce to the home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the most part, it’s worked out well.

“Working staff from home brought out the best in some of the employees,” said one respondent. “Their productivity has been off the charts.”

About 75% of respondents reported transitioning up to 50% of their staff to the home.

For providers that already had experience with remote workers, the pandemic drove them to make further changes, often for the better, say respondents.

“We rolled out technology like Zoom, which has resulted in even higher engagement than pre-COVID,” said Mark Jassey, chief commercial officer at 180 Medical and Personally Delivered. “Now everyone is on the same level playing field and it has made the team closer.”

In some cases, providers report having to invest in additional software and network protections to allow access to patient records and company billing systems from home—and to keep an eye on employees.

“We added Microsoft Teams so managers can meet with their staff and monitor the amount of time they are working,” said one respondent. “We’re utilizing metrics to monitor productivity. It takes more time of managers to monitor work from home staff than when they are in the same office.”

While the majority of providers (60%) have brought back at least some staff, they are working in a changed environment.

“We have every other desk and office filled now so we're able to maintain social distancing in the office and we wear masks when folks are out of their cubicles and offices,” said one respondent.

A number of providers still report being closed to the public, opting instead to ship products or offer curbside pick-up.

“They call when they arrive, we carry their item out, they see we are wearing masks and gloves, we put it on an outside table and watch as they pick it up off the table,” said Dorothy Nowik, president, Pacific Medical Systems, Inc. “It’s no-contact delivery.”