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Help Patients Feel Safe Returning To The Practice During This Pandemic

Published: 11/23/2020 7:09:10 AM

The COVID-19 health crisis has had far-reaching effects on healthcare delivery. The latest study by Phreesia, Harvard University and the Commonwealth Fund discovered that patient visits decreased by 60% the month after the diseases started. Even though visit volumes have since begun to increase, they are still lower than the pre-COVID-19 era. This shows the financial strain on healthcare organizations and missed patient care. With the Coronavirus infections still increases in many countries, health systems and medical practices are now faced with the challenge of making patients feel safe to return for in-person appointments.

Here are some measures that practices can take in order to help patients feel safe returning to the doctor’s office:

Before a patient visit

Before resuming in-person visits in your practices, you must:

  • Support core personal practices (tissues and hand hygiene supplies)
  • Advanced environmental cleaning (disinfecting high-touch surfaces and the increase frequency of cleaning between patients)
  • Schedule visits to protect patients at higher risk (beginning of the day or certain days)
  • Implement physical distancing measures (no waiting in the waiting room, telemedicine, and call in from vehicle)

Being prepared to shut down if needed

When getting ready to resume your practices, monitor local re-opening plans in order to track future and current stages/phases and alert levels. Remaining updated with re-opening plans will keep you informed if the local government decides to take a step back to a previous stage/phase/alert level in light of an increment in new COVID-19 cases. Healthcare facilities can anticipate and get ready for this by creating a flexible re-opening plan.

Patient communication

While resuming practices, a number of patients will be hesitant at the beginning. They need to hear that their doctor or physician is still available to provide support and care for them, whether via video, phone, or in-person with safety precautions in place. Communicating with them before the personal visit will help them feel safe, informed, and will assist them to prepare for their visits. Here are some tips for effectively communicating with patients:

  • Be as friendly and familiar as possible by framing the messages in your own voice
  • Identify yourself clearly by informing them from which clinic you are communicating
  • Clearly communicate your weekly schedule to patients

Apart from these tips, you can communicate with your patients via websites, email, phone, voicemail message, social media, and appointment reminders.

Virtual visits

Virtual visits are one of the best ways to make your patients feel safe. To control the spread of COVID-19, doctors have been advised to see patients virtually—by phone, video, or text message—whenever possible.

Safety measures

The following safety measures will play an important role in making patients comfortable as well as reducing the spread of coronavirus:

Scheduling visits

  • Consider offering some care in-person, and some virtually, to lessen the in-person time needed.
  • Assess patients for symptoms of COVID-19 over the phone before their visit.
  • Schedule appointments in a manner that will restrict the number of patients in the office.
  • Consider scheduling virtual appointments in between personal visits to avoid a patient buildup in the waiting room.

Patient and visitor protocols

  • Ask patients to come alone into the clinic whenever possible.
  • Make sure to ask your patients and essential visitors to always wear a mask and maintain physical distancing in the waiting room.
  • Advise patients and essential visitors to practice cough etiquette and hand hygiene too when within the facility.
  • Request patients to wait in their vehicle or outside until the examination room is ready.
  • Inform patients to arrive no more than 5 minutes before their appointment.

Health care personnel protocols

  • Point-of-care risk assessment before every patient interaction.
  • Comprehensive hand hygiene after every patient interaction.
  • Practices should implement a “staff infection monitoring” protocol in accordance with local health authority guidance. This should include:
  • Staff assessment for symptoms before entering the clinic
  • A notification protocol if they have any symptoms
  • Quarantine and isolation
  • Resolution of symptoms
  • Resuming work

Setting up the clinic

  • Remove magazines, toys, remote controls, brochures, and other shared items from the exam and waiting rooms.
  • Keep frequently used doors open to restrict recurrent door handle interaction.
  • Go for contactless payment options if possible.
  • Go paperless where possible to lower the use of clipboards, forms, and pens with patients.
  • Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with minimum 70% alcohol) at different locations such as waiting room, reception counter, office entrance, and every exam room for use.

Waiting area setup

  • Restrict the number of patients in the waiting room as much as possible by proper scheduling of appointments.
  • Make seating arrangements to maintain 2 meters of physical distancing between patients.
  • Offer face coverings or masks if possible, but make sure patients do not leave them in waiting areas.

Having said that, making feel patients safe to get back for in-person visits might be a tough job, but it surely is possible. With proper care and safety measures, healthcare facilities can make patients feel comfortable. And most importantly, scheduling of appointment plays an important role. Doctors and physicians can use different healthcare software solutions to manage their daily operations. If you are looking for such solutions, WareBuy is the perfect place for you. Here you can find different healthcare software solutions that will suffice your daily operational needs.

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