5 Tips Towards a Smarter Financial Healthcare System

Healthcare Tips

This past spring, the healthcare industry was clobbered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Resources were stretched to the limit and there was not nearly enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep medical staff or patients safe. We have seen medical professionals wear bandanas as makeshift masks, and trash bags in place of gowns — heightening the risk of infection and possibly death. As cases continue to explode, so do concerns about pushing our healthcare system beyond its capability. Healthcare administrators need innovative solutions to reduce operational expenses while simultaneously ensuring ample resource availability to cope with the next health crisis. Sound like an oxymoron? We’re here to help. Here are five tips you can implement to improve your inventory management and keep a handle on supply costs:

1. Collect Data from the Supply Chain

Failing to use supply chain data can result in billions of wasted dollars, yet many hospitals and medical centers are still using less sophisticated manual processes like Excel spreadsheets to manage inventory, supply expenses and other supply chain activities. An analysis by Navigant Consulting, estimates that hospitals could save an average of 17.7 percent or $11 million per hospital annually by standardizing their supply chain processes. Using value-based reimbursement models, organizations can more accurately link supplies needed and patient outcomes.

2. Clearly Organize Responsibilities

It’s time to Marie Kondo your inventory of supplies, because we all know that saving time and money sparks joy! Firstly, your team should aim to reduce wasted materials by getting organized – place products nearing expiration towards the front of facility closets. Additionally, get your team onboard by ensuring responsibilities are clearly outlined. Everyone who comes in direct contact with medical supplies should fully understand his or her role in healthcare inventory management. From cleaning rooms, to ordering supplies, or checking purchase orders for accuracy, so many hospital staff members contribute to successful inventory management. Establishing clear communication is the first step to avoiding confusion between departments.

3. Analyze Usage Vs. Order Frequency

Understanding precisely how much of a certain item you are ordering per week, month, or quarter compared to how much of that item you are using in the same timeframe is key to avoiding waste, saving valuable dollars, and planning for success. Another best practice tip? Don’t just assume if you ordered 10,000 units of a product last quarter, you should place that same order again. Make periodic adjustments to your ordering patterns based on the result of the last analysis.

4. Upgrade Hospital Inventory Technology

Are some of your management tools outdated? Sit down with your management team and identify the biggest issues you experienced in your inventory management, from software to computer equipment. Finding the limitations in your technology is a good way to determine if purchasing a new technology is necessary, or if new procedures need to be created. For example, you can create a streamlined tracking process by investing in an automated system that utilizes barcodes and RFID tags with unique identification numbers for each inventory item. Medical staff can scan the barcodes with mobile scanners and trust the data will be stored in the system; at the same time, the automatic data capture ensures accurate reporting for charting and inventory purposes. Automated inventory management systems can also identify whether products have been recalled or damaged. By adopting a more sophisticated digital platform, you can create a more balanced, prepared environment.

5. Time to Get Lean!

No, we are not talking about the “quarantine 15” though – we can relate. We’re referring to implementing a lean strategy to generate savings and create a better understanding of your costs. Lean teams generally aim to create standardized protocols, cut waste and develop cultures of continuous improvement that allow hospitals to adapt to rapid changes in the healthcare system. But despite proven results, the majority of health systems are not using the Lean method. In 2016, Caldwell Memorial Hospital in North Carolina, for instance, reported that it saved $2.62 million over two months with a lean strategy.

We understand it’s an incredibly challenging moment in history for the healthcare community and every dollar counts.

We want to help you be more equipped for the ongoing pandemic and future challenges. The dedicated staff at RBT is here to help answer any personalized questions you have regarding the way your team is running your healthcare system.

The Latest PPP Update Breakdown

PPP Loan Forgiveness Update

As a small business owner, you likely view The Paycheck Protection Program as a crucial lifeline that’s helped you weather the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As you know, PPP loans were designed to be forgiven, provided the loan proceeds were used for “eligible expenses” like payroll costs, rent, utilities and mortgage interest. While the forgiveness of the PPP loan is tax-free, new guidance issued by the IRS requires that business owners not deduct the eligible expenses in 2020. So, while a business owner may not have applied for PPP loan forgiveness just yet, if a business “reasonably believes” the loan will be forgiven in the future, costs funded with the loan are not deductible for 2020, according the IRS. In the November 18th release, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin explained this clarification, citing that since businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, the expenses are not deductible. “This results in neither a tax benefit nor tax harm since the taxpayer has not paid anything out of pocket,” said Mnuchin. According to this current update, you and your business can only take advantage of the expense deduction if your loan isn’t forgiven (and isn’t going to be forgiven). So, is all hope lost for this new guidance to be reversed? Not quite. One thing that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to agree on, is that they disagree with this guidance. Currently, The Small Business Expense Protection Act of 2020 has bipartisan support. If passed – it will mean a significant difference to your 2020 taxes.

 So what can you do?

At RBT, our firm is hard at work writing letters and sending them out to our representatives in Washington. We are requesting that they approve the proposed legislation (Senate (S.3612 sponsored by Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and House (H.R. 6821 sponsored by Representative Holding (R-NC) or H.R. 6754 sponsored by Representative Fletcher (D-TX)) to make eligible expenses that were forgiven deductible. We recommend you do the same. Click here for a list of NY senators and representatives you can email. To save time, please feel free to copy and paste the template below:

All Americans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and your actions in Congress have provided much-needed relief to millions of struggling businesses. I am writing to you to ask you to continue the important work that will allow small business owners in my community to succeed.

I strongly encourage you to include in any year-end, must-pass legislation language that will allow millions of small business owners a tax deduction for expenses paid with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiven loans. Bills introduced in the Senate and in the House would ensure that PPP loan recipients are provided the full benefits intended in the CARES Act.

It is important for you to ensure the same businesses that have been struggling to survive while adhering to constantly fluctuating shutdowns are not also subject to additional and unexpected taxes as they continue to face an extraordinarily challenging financial year.

Passing this legislation as swiftly as possible will provide small business owners more confidence as they focus on business planning strategies to weather the pandemic. 

As always, RBT is here to support the small businesses that make our community so vibrant and welcoming.

If you have specific questions pertaining to this latest IRS clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out for further discussion with one of our dedicated team members today.

Adapting to Accounting in the time of COVID-19

Virtual Meeting

Adapting to accounting at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic meant embracing new norms for the accounting industry as a whole.

It was a Friday afternoon in March when the RBT team was instructed to pack up within a few hours and prepare for a remote work from home shift. By the following Monday morning we had entered into uncharted territories. Many of the challenges our team experienced likely echo adjustments every industry felt. Creating “work” spaces at kitchen tables, falling into new routines, communicating with team members who we were used to meeting with daily. ZOOM quickly became an essential tool, as we were able to seamlessly connect with many clients and reclaim some of the energy we had lost with in person interaction. However, not every client has access to technology equipped with a camera, so limitations were established right off the bat in our new remote settings. How could our team members conduct inventory observations without our newfound favorite ZOOM tool? Additionally, some clients (primarily government agencies) are entirely reliant on physical documentation, so when they shut down and went remote, their lack of digital workflow created additional and unforeseen roadblocks in the auditing process. Some clients had designated staff members head into the office on an as need basis to scan and send documentation to our team. Thankfully for everyone, certain deadlines were pushed back to enable these entities to get all of the necessary paperwork submitted, but it undoubtedly created additional stressors for our clients at an already hectic time.

This has been (and continues to be) a learning process for everyone at RBT.

Thankfully, our IT department was strong enough to help us effortlessly transition to remote work and coordinated safe digital document transfers – but we recognize not every business has the capability or the software necessary to go completely digital. While we always strive to be in the field and look forward to the day when we can safely interact with clients once again, we recognize that many may remain remote indefinitely. As more businesses adopt work from home flexibility, we will adapt to accommodate our clients. We embrace the mentality that even though we’re not physically sitting together, we can still successfully interact and serve clients. We pride ourselves on the personal relationships we’ve developed over the years, and now it’s more important than ever to be proactive about staying in touch.

Our recommendation for clients, is to invest in updated IT capabilities so your business can be completely paperless in the event of new unforeseeable circumstances.

In order for future remote audits to be successful, safe paperless programs are key. Beyond convenience, it can mean a big cost savings for you down the road. Investing in modern technology now that can result in remote zooms for inventory counts could result in major cost savings for clients – cutting down on audit team travel costs among other preventable expenses. Overall, our team views the open door into remote auditing as a positive for our clients and us, too.

Knowing when outsourced accounting services can benefit New York local governments

Government Offical Deciding

COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdown have been hard on local governments, and now may be a good time to weigh whether the trained eyes of outside accounting services can help put your Town, Village or City back on track.

In the best of times, officials in New York’s cities, town, villages, and counties have had to keep careful watch over spending. The pandemic, which brought budget cuts and state aid holdbacks, also brought along with cost-cutting measures to many municipalities. That included trimming staff through early retirement incentives, layoffs, and furloughs.

Did your municipality lose institutional knowledge when staff took retirement? What will it cost you to hire a new person, one with solid knowledge of the ins and outs of government accounting and bookkeeping, which is so different from commercial bookkeeping, to guide you through these tough times? Would hiring an outside consultant for accounting, one who specializes in government accounting, be more cost-effective?

The first thing for a municipality to consider when deciding whether to outsource this service to an independent accountant is the real cost of hiring a new full-time employee. In addition to salary, the municipality also bears the cost of medical benefits, as an employee and also as a future retiree, besides making payments into a pension fund.

For some municipal leaders, the initial reaction might be that they may prefer to have “a person in a seat,” someone in the building, who they can talk to directly. But if the pandemic has taught us all one thing, it’s how easily we can use Zoom or other video meeting programs for instant or near-instant virtual conversations. With one quick emailed meeting link, a mayor or supervisor can have an in-depth discussion, face to face via screen, with his or her accounting professional. That might have seemed unthinkable a year ago, but now virtual meetings are a staple of our professional, governmental, and personal lives.

And, of course, a consulting accounting firm could still have someone make on-site visits to the local government.

The outsourcing arrangement can free up the local government’s office staff to handle everyday cash transactions, receipts, and general bookkeeping, which can also improve their services to the public.

An outside accountant who specializes in governments can help the municipality identify ways to do things more efficiently and can help officials look for more ways to control or cut costs while minimizing the effects on services for the public.

Such outside accounting services can also provide an independent look at the municipal operations from an internal control perspective. They can help identify weaknesses in cash controls and review bank reconciliations. While hiring an independent accounting service will not relieve your local government of the need for periodic audits, it can prevent surprises when the audit comes.

Your government accounting specialist can advise your officials and remind them what you need to do at various points in the year, as well as review your budget.

The appropriate consultant is not just an accountant; he or she can also function as your financial accounting advisor who can also help smooth over tensions on boards when disagreements occur because the accounting advisor is independent.

Local governments in New York looking for ways to weather the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic have had to come up with a myriad of new strategies to cut costs without decimating services to residents. Outsourcing accounting services to an independent specialist can be another outside-the-box strategy that saves taxpayer money while providing expertise and credibility to municipal operations.

Breaking Through to the Next Generation

Students Learning Robotics

They say, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and we think that phrase sums up the massive manufacturing generational gap we’re experiencing. Without an introduction to the incredible career paths that exist within this industry, many kids grow up without manufacturing on their radar. We want to help you change that.

Did you know the median wage of Hudson Valley Region STEM occupations is 70% higher than the median annual wage for all workers in the region? Beyond competitive compensation, we know the growth projection is enormous. In New York State, between 2010 and 2015, employment in core STEM job titles grew by 10.5% and over the same time period, the nation’s core STEM job count grew by 11.3%. But how do we appeal to this generation? To better engage youth, manufacturers should focus on how this field offers a dynamic, meaningful, and purposeful line of work built on creativity and critical thinking.

Imagine sitting in class as a 13 year old kid. Your teacher announces a hands on team challenge you can partake in with your friends to build and program industrial-size robots to play a field game for a prize. Sounds pretty cool, right? There are programs you may not be aware of (even you “don’t know what you don’t know”) that are introducing manufacturing in fun, innovative ways. Robotics programs are popping up all over the country, aiming to build foundational knowledge about STEM careers and break down the negative stigmas that often surround the manufacturing industry. In the last year, nonprofit FIRST generated over 320,000 mentor, coach, judge and volunteer roles, to meet growing student interest. Getting kids excited about a career that touches virtually every corner of life – from environmental improvements, to building better medicines, and simplifying everyday tasks – is the key to the industry’s future.

One noteworthy local initiative is the Rockland BOCES Hudson Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School known as the Hudson Valley P-TECH program. It’s designed to engage students in grades 9-14 with hands-on, project-based learning. Local businesses are encouraged to get involved to enable Hudson Valley P-TECH to prepare students for the workplace of today and tomorrow. The Business Partnership Program connects students with professionals in their pathway by providing students with work site visits, job shadowing, field experiences and more. Monthly Mentor Lounge events focus on topics to develop professional skills. Business partners also work collaboratively with teachers to design industry challenges in which students solve real-world challenges facing the industry partner. The end result? Creating a more robust and skilled pipeline of a qualified workforce that will benefit our entire region.

Shifting the stigma is the priority. How can we get schools to embrace industry tools like artificial intelligence and virtual reality? By talking to our educators about ways we can help engage scientific minds. Peter Harris, the Director of Learning and Design for the Career Pathways Programs, encourages manufacturing professionals to connect with local middle school educators and offer facility tours or classroom visits to strengthen outreach. You can create a lightbulb moment for a student once they realize a passion like playing video games can be translated into learning an exciting and rewarding advanced technology such as robotics programming or virtual metal cutting. Harris describes a sense of relief, release and pride that overcomes the students who walk into BOCES technical centers. Establishing stimulating alternative pathways to success is the first step to break down traditional education barriers.

To bridge the employment gap we’re headed towards, we must increase awareness and change misperceptions about the industry through exposure to engaging content and hands-on experiences. By offering high school and postsecondary mentorships, you will be helping prepare students for challenging, rewarding and lucrative careers in manufacturing. After all, many of the same kids you reach out to today will become the future of the company you’ve worked so hard to grow. Together, we can change perceptions, one student at a time. Please share this article with colleagues to spread the word, and contact RBT CPA’s dedicated team to have a deeper conversation about youth outreach you can get involved in.

Bumpy Road Ahead for NY’s Public Works

Signs of Construction Jobs Slowing Down

If you’re a part of this industry, you know it’s a late cycle business. You work on a backlog, so you never feel an immediate slowdown, and there’s (usually) always a project in the pipelines. But this past spring threw a curveball no one could have anticipated or predicted. Now, we’ve experienced our fair share of economic slowdowns in New York. As an industry, construction crews came together and supported one another in the aftermath of 9/11. You braced yourselves and recovered after the 2008 economic recession. But COVID-19 has created one of the fastest economic slowdowns in history, it feels a lot like we were collectively driving 65 miles per hour down Route 84 and slammed on the breaks without warning. Hopefully, you had your seat belt on because ever since February we’ve all been in for a bumpy ride. Forward procurement hasn’t stopped altogether but it has greatly softened, so while the construction industry is still fairly busy right now, contractor’s backlogs are trending downward.

Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York State dropped 27.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Sales tax collections from April through June totaled $3.3 billion, which was $1.2 billion less than last year. Regionally, New York City was clearly hit early and hardest by the pandemic and the effects have lingered longest, with more businesses still unable to reopen due to health concerns, and construction projects delayed or halted. New York City’s second quarter decline of 34.9 percent was the result of deepening declines in April (-23 percent), May (-32 percent) and June (-46 percent). Because the federal government postponed the income tax payment due date from April 15 to July 15, that the big bump of tax payments expected in April, which generally represent about 13 to 15 percent of state income taxes, won’t count toward this fiscal year but the following one.

So, with tax revenue down, we can anticipate state and capital spending cuts. Unfortunately, 2021 will likely be a slower year than 2020 for construction projects, and contractors will probably see some softening of activity as early as the fourth quarter, regardless of what part of the state your business is concentrated in. As one of the most dense urban areas in the world and as a revenue powerhouse, the economic health of New York City is often the largest indicator of what the rest of the state can anticipate. Our current concern is that a lack of a larger federal government intervention would lead to New York lagging behind other states in its recovery effort. The MTA needs a $12 billion cash infusion to offset losses due to the coronavirus. If the federal government doesn’t approve aid, massive cuts to staffing and service could be implemented as soon as November. On a local level, we are already feeling project cut backs, with local municipalities being forced to cut back spending because they need to shore up their budgets. As much as we wish we could, our state doesn’t have the ability to print more money: cue the federal government.

What now? We could take a page out of the history books and recreate a domestic program to stimulate the economy on a national scale. You might recall in the 1930’s President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted The New Deal, a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations to respond to needs for relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression. While it’s unlikely that New York would get specific public works project money handed over, a national initiative isn’t out of the question. The New York City region generates 8% of total U.S. GDP. According to an analysis by SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, New York’s massive economy means the state sends $116 billion more in tax revenues to the federal government than residents receive in benefits and services. Consider also that this is an election year, and whichever candidate becomes president, passing a big infrastructure bill to improve crumbling roadways and bridges across the country would likely gain bipartisan support. While we are optimistic that a big infrastructure deal could get passed, regardless of how the federal government will choose to step in we have to think of this pandemic in terms of a massive natural disaster. The construction industry will feel the aftershock the virus leaves behind even after it recedes. Contractors need to adapt to this reality if they are to survive the storm.

A recent study ranking the worst state infrastructures in the country leaves New York on a rocky road. The study places New York seventh for worst infrastructure in the United States and assigns the state a D grade after putting up a score of 158 out of a possible 400 points. While the number of deficient bridges and roads in poor condition and the cost to update the water system are grim statistics to pour over, this could actually be a saving grace for public works projects over the next three years. Infrastructure issues don’t magically disappear and deterioration does not stop because of an economic slowdown. If the federal government wants to stimulate the economy, it can choose to invest in infrastructure and generate job growth. With interest rates where they are, the New York construction industry represents a prime candidate for a “new deal-esque” stimulus.

We are hopeful that the road we are traveling represents a shorter than historic dip ahead. A massive public works project boost could allow us to reimagine New York’s infrastructure, launch sustainable green technology and position our state for continued future success. We feel optimistic that while 2021 will present its fair share of financial obstacles for New York’s private and public construction projects, 2022 opportunities and growth will rise from the rubble.

Restructuring Your Workflow to Save Money

Women Discussing Manufacturing Plans

We all know that “making it” in manufacturing is tough under the best of circumstances.

When things are booming, it’s hard to keep up. So your team works more. Then, when things are slow, it’s hard to survive. So your team works more. Throw statewide shut downs and a global pandemic in the mix? Well, let’s just say it’s critical for you to be taking a serious look into your current workflow and making proactive plans to save money. The financial decisions you make now can mean the difference between thriving, surviving, or shutting down. Let’s explore some pros and cons of two of your biggest costs: overtime and new hires.

Overtime Pros

Increased Productivity – Overtime can assure your orders stay on time, especially as production ramps up after being shut down for months. Projects sometime require more work than can be squeezed into a 40-hour week, so putting in the extra hours can keep you from falling behind and creating additional shipment delays with your client base.

Greater Employee Incentives – If you can afford the costs, overtime can help your employees earn more money, especially at an extremely challenging economic moment in our state’s history.

Overtime Cons

Employee Burnout – Working too many hours may cause employees to tire of their jobs too quickly, resulting in decreased productivity. A work and home life balance is essential to a happy, healthy employee. In a study about the impact of burnout, 95% of human resource experts acknowledged that burnout and stress sabotage workplace retention.

Unsustainable Long Term –While overtime provides a way to satisfy unexpected spikes in demand, it’s often not financially sustainable for meeting demand that persists. Since employers have to pay workers time and a half or double time for overtime hours, it can be costly to use overtime as a long-term solution to high demand, so assess on a case by case basis.

Now, how about new hires? Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to more than one question, it may be time to consider expanding your workforce and adding new hires instead of relying on stretching overtime policies.

  • Is the company achieving steady growth that can support additional staff?
  • Are current employees working efficiently or are they overworked?
  • Should we restructure roles within the company?
  • Have we had to turn away new business?
  • Are we providing excellent customer service?

According to a recent study, the average cost-per-hire in the manufacturing industry is $5,159.

But still, the initial cost of hiring a new employee is nothing compared to what you can expect to pay later. Consider the additional costs of hospitalizations, workers compensation insurance, retirement plans and paid time off. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds employer costs for employee compensation averaged $38.20 per hour worked in June 2020. Wages and salaries cost employers $26.17 while benefit costs were $12.04. The average cost for health insurance benefits was $3.18 per hour worked. A benefits package that includes paid vacation and other perks increases your expenses, but it may also reduce turnover.

So what’s the right move for you?

Sitting down and crunching the numbers is the first step to determine what’s right for your business during these extraordinary times. You may be growing exponentially or you may be struggling to keep longtime staff onboard. Each situation in unique and you have to decide what will result in the highest rate of profitability for your business. As always, our dedicated team is standing by ready to help you troubleshoot these challenges and help you make the tough decisions that will help you succeed.

The Invisible Healthcare Threat You Didn’t Know About

Ransomware Attack

As an industry, we have been consumed and devastated by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For months, oversaturated healthcare systems were pushed to their breaking points, in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPE). Still, some smaller buyers report struggling to maintain ample supply as we face a surge in cases. But as we battle one threat, another is silently lurking. If ransomware attacks aren’t on your radar, you need to consider the massive toll these cyber threats can take on your system’s financial health and reputation.

Did you know that just a few weeks ago, New York-based St. Lawrence Health System’s computer network was shut down after a ransomware attack?

The three-hospital health system with locations in Canton-Potsdam, Massena and Gouverneur discovered a new variant of Ryuk ransomware within hours of the initial attack and acted quickly to disconnect its IT systems. If you’re not already familiar, ransomware is malware that locks up a system’s computers and data until a ransom is paid. The New York Health Department acknowledged the attack and has been in communication with the health system. Late last month, Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Oregon was also hit. Both providers maintain there’s no evidence patient information was compromised, but troubling data suggests this trend is a growing threat that isn’t going away. In 2020 alone, a total of 59 U.S. health care providers or systems have been impacted by ransomware, disrupting patient care at up to 510 facilities, according to Brett Callow, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft. In a joint alert, the FBI and two federal agencies said they had credible information of “an increased and imminent cybercrime threat” to U.S. health care providers. The alert said malicious groups are targeting the sector with attacks aiming for “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The reality is, our healthcare systems have more data than ever before, but providing protection for that data is often an afterthought.

Internet-enabled medical devices are fantastic tools to increase speed and efficiency but many are poorly secured and come with additional risks. As patient records become more digitized and people depend on telehealth services, healthcare providers need to protect sensitive data. On average, the cost to recover from these attacks – without paying the ransom – totals more than $732,520 in the US, which includes business downtime, lost data, operational costs, device costs, and other expenses. But when the organizations paid, the recovery costs nearly doubled to $1.4 million. So you can’t afford to just hope it doesn’t happen to you. What steps can your team take now to proactively protect your system? Kevin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance recently suggested implementing the following best practices:

  • effective security policies
  • training road maps for IT teams
  • integration of proactive cybersecurity education

“It’s essential for facilities to regularly create backups of critical systems and files, and to house those offline from the network. Healthcare and public health facilities should also be vigilant about upgrading and updating their legacy hardware and software; ensuring that all connected devices and applications have multi-factor authentication enabled; and that employees know how to identify and avoid malicious email links and attachments,” said Coleman. We understand for an industry already under immense pressure, adding this concern to your plate may trigger more stress. As always, if you have specific questions about strengthening your organization, please reach out to a dedicated RBT team member to schedule a consultation.

Dealing With Delayed Payments During a Pandemic

Delayed Payment

Remember the good old days when you completed a construction job without a hitch and got paid on time for your work?

Yeah, neither do we. Historically, high upfront costs and razor-thin margins have made it difficult for contractors to pay what they owe to their subcontractors and suppliers before they’ve been paid themselves. The result? Everyone has to wait to get paid until job requirements are met and obligations are fulfilled. The 2020 National Construction Payment Report found 80% of companies surveyed spend a significant portion of their workweek chasing down payments and only 50% of construction businesses say they receive payment within 30 days of invoicing. Today, many contractors are faced with the added stressor of huge payment delays from current clients who claim they can’t pay because of the pandemic. We know, this scenario sounds like the cherry on top of an already problematic year. But don’t panic, there are steps you can take to protect your business before you fall into a messy financial and legal battle.

Contractors should spend extra time reviewing their submissions for payment.

Spend additional time upfront to ensure language is concise, and that the backup your client is requesting is clearly stated. A well-crafted contract will eliminate confusion about payment terms and enforce your payment rights. The contract should specify the scope of the work, payment schedule, and legal repercussions of late payments. Remember: your lien rights are designed to protect you. For over two centuries, the mechanics lien has been empowering materials suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, and other construction stakeholders with the most effective weapon they can wield against delinquent, non-paying clients. You want to get liens filed on anything that’s unpaid or late. A more proactive move is to ensure your lien rights are protected at all times as you get more work.

Consider converting to digital invoicing and payment solutions.

Taking advantage of technology helps streamline the entire process and often means contractors get paid faster. Every second that passes after a job is completed is time where there is a receivable with no cash flow. When customers pay with the click of a mouse instead of waiting a week for the mail and checks to clear, your business is generating cash faster which allows you to focus more energy on growth and leads and less on covering bills and payments.

Increasing your cash cushion as much as possible will set you up for success.

Obtain working capital loans, monitor new opportunities for SBA programs and new stimulus money. Try to get credit terms extended with suppliers and research third parties that offer longer credit terms for suppliers. At RBT, our goal is to help you feel empowered to get what you’ve earned and that means preparing for unpleasant obstacles down the road before they strike.

When you walk on to a construction site, there is an entire community of stakeholders on the job. Every person who touches your business is impacted by COVID-19 in some way, and we know you are in a unique position. You’re tasked with juggling a lot of moving parts and personalities at play with the end goal of getting paid for the hard work your team has completed. While illnesses, quarantines, and local regulations have exacerbated an existing industrywide issue, we hope you can use some of this advice to better prepare yourself for the pitfalls ahead. When you find yourself in a challenging scenario and you’re not sure who to turn to, please know you can call our dedicated professionals for a personalized consultation.

Telehealth: The Transformative Tipping Point

Telemedicine - Doctor on Laptop

If someone told you ten years ago that you’d be having your annual checkup with your family doctor while wearing your favorite sweatpants on the comfort of your living room couch – no audible waiting room music, cold stethoscope or examination table in sight – you probably would have laughed. Now, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is transforming the way we treat patients and the way we receive healthcare. Like many facets of life, something that once felt foreign and perhaps even impossible is being integrated into daily life, spanning all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. In order to provide the best care to your clients and be prepared for what’s next in health technology, it’s important for you to stay in the know about all things telehealth in New York.

A recent report by The Community Health Care Association of New York State finds 88% of the state’s federally qualified health centers now deliver care remotely, up from just 35% in 2018. Additionally, The New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare data recently found that telehealth comprised 90% of visits and 86% of revenue for behavioral health providers. But what happens when we finally have the pandemic under control and have a widely available vaccine? The reality is, telehealth makes healthcare more accessible and many feel it’s a welcome modern update. Advocacy groups like CHCANYS and The Council are calling on policymakers to make permanent telehealth measures and say doing so will help to address health disparities and barriers to care, aid in preventing avoidable conditions as well as higher costs, and ensure the financial stability of safety-net providers. This past June, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to expand the types of telemedicine services covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance. Telehealth advocacy experts recommend that, post-pandemic, the state should continue to support a full range of telehealth modalities, including reimbursement for telephone visits and expanded Wi-Fi and cellular service in urban areas. They also urge keeping telehealth’s use at the discretion of clinicians in collaboration with clients, based on individual patient needs and capacity.

Financially? It more than makes sense. Telehealth visits have been a financial lifeline for providers that reported staggering declines in in-person care as a result of the pandemic and tens of millions of dollars in losses a week in some cases. Many are pushing for elected officials to maximize regulatory flexibility by expanding the list of licensed practitioners allowed to provide such care, not requiring in-person visits before remote visits and investing in workforce training and research to establish where telehealth is most impactful. In response to the unprecedented interest in, and need for, telemedicine access, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) temporarily eased or suspended a number of regulations related to telehealth. It’s no secret that the pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing mental health and substance use crises facing New Yorkers. Thoughtful, innovative combinations of technology and healthcare can serve as a crucial long-term tool.

We still have a long way to go, as a lot of fear and misinformation surrounds this emerging digital practice. An estimated 41% of U.S. adults had delayed or avoided medical care including urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%), because of concerns about COVID-19 according to the CDC’s most recent data. As we look towards the future of our nation’s health with uncertainty, many maintain the mindset that we must continue to strive to be better and do better. As a country, we have collectively come together in the darkest of days of the pandemic to advocate for patient care and cohesively meld health policy and government – a philosophy many hopes remains for generations to come.