COVID-19 Practice Pulse
2021 Healthcare Provider Outlook
Last updated December 2020
Real insights from real U.S. physician practices. We keep a finger on the pulse to keep you informed and help you plan your next move – check back often for the latest insights.
A historical year in healthcare has just come to a close. As providers face a brand new year, we surveyed practice leaders nationwide to find the answer to: how they see the future of their practices after a landmark year and what they believe are health care changes that will persist after COVID-19.
2021 Healthcare Provider Outlook
We surveyed MTBC + CareCloud customers across the country to understand how they’re looking at 2021 after a historical year. 
- Practice/Office Mgr
- 1-3 Physicians
- 4-10 Physicians
- 11-24 Physicians
- 25-75 Physicians
- 76+ Physicians
How has the pandemic impacted the future of your business? Do you predict that practice conditions will improve or decline in 2021?
Throughout the year, we asked practices how they have been faring since the onset of the pandemic. In mid-May we found that 43% of surveyed practices never closed their physical practice, and 52% planned to re-open within the next six months and no practices in our survey reported permanent closure due to COVID-19.
Six months later, we now ask them to consider how this past year has impacted their business for the long term, and if they believe the upcoming year will bring improved conditions.
Survey says – mostly yes. 60% of practices show that they believe this upcoming year will be an improvement for their practice while 30% believe that their conditions will not change. Only a few believe that 2021 will show a decline for their practice. With the recent distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, maybe this subset will grow smaller as a couple mentioned the challenges of seeing patients during a pandemic as reasoning for their perceived difficulty.
- Greatly improve, compared to 2020
- Somewhat improve, compared to 2020
- I don't predict conditions will change in 2021
- Somewhat decline, compared to 2020
- Greatly decline, compared to 2020
What do you predict will be your most pressing concerns for your practice in 2021?
We asked practice leaders to identify which areas they believe would be the most pressing concerns for them in 2021. Reimbursement, higher expenses and cash flow issues came out as top three concerns for the new year. About two out of five practice leaders surveyed were concerned about these factors.
How have your patients’ expectations changed, as a result of the pandemic?
This past year has seen changes to the traditional patient provider interaction. Our mid-may survey showed that 75% of practices were using telehealth while only 6% of practices were using telehealth before the onset of COVID-19. While our first touch survey in mid-march showed us that a third or more of providers made changes to their communication strategies, sanitation practices, and scheduling.
With an influx of technology use in care delivery/communications, alterations to practice operations and with the concurrent increase in patient consumerism, we wanted to see if practices had insight into just how much patient expectations have shifted moving forward.
Almost half of those surveyed noted that there was a considerable or drastic change in the reliance that their patients had on telehealth. Championing social distancing with the architectural changes is increasingly expected by patients. In the spirit of social distancing, 31% of survey participants saw that there was a drastic or considerable change with patient preference for contactless intake/checkout.
- Drastic Change
- Considerable Change
- Some Change
- Slight Change
- No Change
My patients rely more on access to telehealth
My patients require pandemic-related guidance
My patients expect architectural changes for social distancing
My patients prefer contactless intake/checkout
My patients expect quicker access to care
My patients are more likely to contact the provider and/or office directly
My patients request payment alternatives
My patients are more responsive to outreach initiatives
My patients are more engaged in their care
Technology Adoption At A Glance
78% of participants noted that their practice relied upon technology more since the pandemic. But where do they foresee expanding their use of technology in 2021 beyond?
Which of the below, in your opinion, are care settings or practice elements that will persist after COVID-19?
With changes to practice operations being necessary for practices’ to adapt to needs throughout the past year, we gave them the opportunity to reflect on what they believe would be changes that will stay even after COVID-19 is no longer a pressing concern.
- 60% state contactless payment is here to stay
- 53% think increased telehealth availability for practices will continue
- 37% say going fully paperless (e.g prescriptions, payment, etc) will be embraced
- 37% believe that contactless patient intake will persist.
Increased facility sanitation
Removal of high-touch items from the waiting rooms (magazines, toys, etc.)
Added safety measures for staff
Architectural changes to encourage ongoing social distancing (i.e., front desk plastic barriers)
Increased telehealth availability for practices
Making personal hygiene and sanitation products available at the practice
Telehealth utilization for more visit-types
Mandatory use of masks for patients
Mass communication tools (e-mail, sms) for patients
Going fully paperless (e.g., digitizing receipts, prescriptions, payment, etc,)
Contactless patient intake (patient is told to check in at home or via their own device)
If you could give another practice one piece of advice, what would it be? How do you feel your practice has risen to the occasion, as a result of the pandemic?
We gave respondents the opportunity to provide advice to another practice. Here are a few demonstrative pieces of what practice has to say to others about rising to the occasion.
The 2021 healthcare provider outlook is looking positive. With 60% of practices projecting that their practices will see an improvement in 2021 and 18% believing that they will greatly improve, a new era of growth may be in store. As vaccination distribution commences and patients return to their daily routines, we may even see the amount of practices feeling hopeful about their future increases.
Considering the drastic shift towards technology as practices adapted to a changing landscape, 78% of practices rely more on technology than they did before, it comes to no surprise that practices are thinking more about how technology will be a mainstay in their operations. With more than half of providers thinking about expanding their use of telehealth services, contactless payment, contactless in-take, and business intelligence are increasingly shaping up to headline the future of medical care.
We’re Here to Help
MTBC + CareCloud continue to deploy efforts and resources to assist medical practices as they adapt to the rapidly changing healthcare industry. We’re focused on supporting practices through a variety of insights, solutions & resources.
 Data from the 2020 Healthcare Provider Outlook survey, which collected data from practice leaders and physicians during the first two weeks of December, 2020.