Health clinics and offices are essential places of business, especially during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, local clinics and doctor’s offices are at an enhanced risk of being exposed – and spreading – the Coronavirus. Because of this, it’s vital for clinics to take every possible precaution and be on top of managing their businesses. This article will provide practical advice to manage a practice in the face of a pandemic.
- Use Email and Online Resources
Social distancing is proven to work, but it has to be put into practice everywhere – even amongst health clinics themselves. The best way you can manage the human traffic in your clinic is to make sure that the people scheduled for in-person appointments truly need that appointment.
That means all of your appointments for a routine checkup or some sort of medical maintenance should be cancelled, or at least moved online. This is where utilizing email and other online services like video chat can help to save lives.
Start by informing patients via email of any new policies you’re implementing due to COVID-19. Post all of this information on your website, too. It’s also a good idea to include links on your website to helpful information on the Centers for Disease Control website. This shows patients you’re monitoring the crisis and keeping them informed.
- Use Your Online Health Management System
Healthcare clinics already use online software to manage patients. However, these systems can provide additional services you may not have used in the past. For instance, you can use healthcare management systems to track special circumstances with billing. Because so many people are out of work, they may experience a lapse in health coverage. Online healthcare management systems can keep track of those who’ve lost coverage and flag them for future reference.
Online health management systems are also good tools to use for organization and outreach. For instance, these online systems can send text messages to patients. They can even help you screen for COVID-19 symptoms via text messaging.
- Call Clients Periodically
Make contact with your clients via telephone, even those who don’t have critical conditions. Let them know that you can call them again to re-schedule their appointments once the health crisis is over. This builds a good rapport with clients and lets them know that you care about their health.
- Try Telemedicine
Patients who don’t have critical conditions can sometimes be helped via video conferencing. Call them to set up a video conference meeting. The conference can be held via smart phone or computer.
Telemedicine eliminates the need for the patient to have an office appointment. Telemedicine is best for clients who have minor symptoms and need advice on what they can do to manage their symptoms at home. It’s safer and more convenient, too.
- Be Mindful of Clinical Staff
Patient care is always your first priority. However, you should also prioritize employee health. If a staff member needs time off for personal reasons, you should do everything you can to accommodate them. Require your staff to say home when they are sick. If they need extended time off to quarantine, offer them paid leave whenever possible.
Keep an open door policy for all staff who have special requests caused by the pandemic. Some staff members may have suggestions for organizing the office better. Listen to those suggestions and implement them whenever possible.
- Practice Good Hygiene
Designate a group of people to disinfect your clinic daily. Wipe down all areas with disinfectant, especially countertops, doorknobs and any areas routinely touched. Set up barriers between patients and staff.
Try to limit the number of staff members who have physical contact or any other close contact with patients. Have a staff member greet patients at the door. Check the temperatures of people as they enter and ask questions to screen them for the virus. Do not let people wait or congregate inside waiting areas. Instead, make patients wait outside. Call them on their cell phones and have them come into the office one at a time.
Though COVID-19 has created a major health crisis, you can help reduce the stress of it by practicing good patient care and hygiene. Remember the above tips. Make sure your office is cleaned daily. Keep contact with your patients via email, phone and teleconference. Post online resources on your website. These tips will help keep your office organized and help reduce the spread of the virus.