Businesses of all kinds are gearing up to go back to work. Experts in a number of industries are discussing the importance of reinventing your company to operate in a post-pandemic world. Companies are advised to operate like a startup, in terms of offering flexible services and designing lean operations, as they face these new challenges.
But what about medical offices and primary care clinics? How can physicians, pediatricians, optometrists, and other professionals ensure that their practice gets off to the right start? Let’s apply the same concept for success to our industry.
Build a Plan
Making a plan for how to approach reopening is critical to ensuring a smooth transition. The plan should outline any new protocol and safety measures for practitioners, nurses, admin and cleaning staff. Take stock of the PPE available and order necessary supplies in advance for future use. Be sure to include emergency measures for preventing and containing suspected cases of contagion for patients and staff members.
Focus on Safety
Triaging patients over the phone 24 hours prior to visits is key to knowing how each individual should be handled and providing appropriate instructions for patients who will need to come into your clinic.
Communicate the expectations for patients clearly and in multiple forms – over the phone, on your website, and posted on the door of your clinic. Your office should request that patients come alone or only with a single companion when necessary to limit non-patient visitors. Separate waiting areas should be provided for any patients that report having contact or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The CDC recommends that practices require visitors to wear cloth face coverings to limit the risk of spreading the virus. This expectation should also be communicated to patients before they arrive for their scheduled appointment. If your office has available supplies, it can also plan to provide masks for incoming patients.
It’s still important to limit contact between patients. So, scheduling should be done with the intent to limit wait times and prevent high volumes of patients and their families from moving through the office at any one time. Provide more time between appointments and arrange appointments and movement through the office to help eliminate close contact between people.
󠇉For Reference: the American Medical Association’s Physicians’ Guide to Reopening Practice.
Empathetic Patient Experience
Every interaction that doctors, nurses, and admin have with patients should be a positive one. This is a time of great interruption, uncertainty, fear, and loss for nearly everyone. So, it’s important to listen to patients’ concerns and provide thoughtful answers and accommodations whenever possible.
Move Forward Gradually
Advisors for startups recommend that companies move slowly when they’re first beginning a new activity. The advice for medical practices reopening after the coronavirus lockdown is similar. It’s easier to control operations and make sure that the best safety practices are in place, if you work to reopen the clinic incrementally. This allows your team to efficiently identify and address any practical challenges that come up as you work to get back to normal.
Adopt Technological Solutions
No time has pushed more businesses to shift to digital solutions more than the past three months. We’ve seen in this in the quick pivot to telehealth visits. The pandemic has also sped up the move for many practices to the cloud because of its ability to support remote working and HIPAA-compliant security controls. Not only can these types of solutions help your office to operate more efficiently, it will also help them decrease the number of patients that actually need to be seen in-person, which is a valuable benefit these days. Virtual ‘office hours’ can also be used to meet with pharmaceutical reps, suppliers, and other vendors.
Providing your staff with reliable tools is going to be crucial in moving forward with confidence. This should include a virtual desktop easy access to all of the tools that handle patient data for your office. Your team will need a secure videoconferencing platform to perform telemedicine and a way to collaborate with other internal staff and external specialists. Remember that any technology adopted must meet HIPAA privacy and security requirements to prevent data breaches.
Check out these Resources for Remote Working Success.
Favor Flexible Cost Structures
Physicians have been hit hard by the financial repercussions caused by COVID-19. Now, most practices are looking for ways to cut costs, lower overhead, and operate more efficiently. Reinventing your practice with the goal of long-term financial health requires careful analysis and flexible solutions.
Enabling staff to work shorter or more flexible hours and handle administrative tasks from home, for example, helps decrease costs while retaining personnel as they negotiate childcare and other issues related to the pandemic. Additionally, SaaS cloud services and other digital tools often offer variable pricing structures that can support your goal of running leaner operations.
Consider Staff Augmentation
Another way that you can reduce expenses for your medical practice is to rely on staff augmentation services. This means outsourcing the most time-consuming and mechanical tasks required to keep your clinic open. By hiring specialized external providers, you can get the same work done for a fraction of the cost.
When you use a medical answering service, to give you a convenient example, you can reduce or eliminate the time needed to handle patient calls, schedule appointments, relay messages to doctors on-call, and dispatch care providers. Physician, pediatricians, dentists, and other professionals save on infrastructure expenses, underutilized employees, and dealing with hiring challenges.
Especially now, in this period of coronavirus concerns, enlisting an answering service or expanding their responsibilities to include tele-triage can be a huge time and money-saver.
󠇉Get more information on How PatientCalls Can Support Your WFH Activities.
Talk with PatientCalls about how we can assist your healthcare practice during this challenging period; contact us using the “get a quote” form above.