The coronavirus pandemic has already exacted an incalculable toll, but we likely won’t fully understand its lasting effects on our way of life for years to come. Already it is changing the way patients look at and approach their healthcare.
Although quarantine measures are slowly easing up across the country, the threat of COVID-19 is still as present as ever. It’s normal to feel hesitant about reopening or trying to welcome patients back. People still need health care, and patients nationwide have deferred treatment as the majority of healthcare systems and facilities have focused on the pandemic.
While keeping safety in mind, there are still ways to welcome your patients back without compromising their health, or that of your team.
Here are five safety steps to lower the risk of COVID-19 spread and give your patients extra peace of mind:
1. Utilize Telemedicine
For consultations that do not necessarily require a face-to-face appointment, it’s still ideal to use a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform. That way, your patients can still receive care without needing to leave the comfort and safety of their homes.
In fact, in a set of guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March, the agency encouraged setting up more telemedicine appointments, especially for non-emergent medical needs. That advice is just as relevant now.
2. Use Parking Lots as Waiting Rooms
Strict adherence to social distancing guidelines has proven to be one of the most effective ways of slowing down the transmission of COVID-19. Prevent overcrowding in your waiting room by limiting the number of patients allowed inside and encouraging them to wait in their cars if they are medically able to.
3. Limit Non-Patient Visitors
When it comes to social distancing, it will also help to limit non-patient visitors. The fewer people that your patients and staff are exposed to, the lower the risk and the happier your patients will be. If it’s not urgent, it would be best to put non-patient related visits on hold for now.
4. Opt for Contactless Payment Options
While there is no conclusive study yet with regards to how long the COVID-19 virus can stay on surfaces like paper bills, it still wouldn’t hurt to take precautionary measures to avoid exposing your staff and patients to potential risk. With contactless payments, patients never need to hand over their credit card or touch the card reader.
The right payment processing system can offer you cashless, contactless transactions through popular payment apps and systems such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
5. Make Use of Patient Apps and Online Portals
Patient apps and portals are great tools for your practice to boost patient engagement. During this outbreak, though, they can go even further by combating the spread of the virus.
Having a patient app that allows your patients to view important information, pay bills, and access certain services will minimize the need for face-to-face interactions between your patients and front desk staff.
Is Your Practice Ready for the New Normal?
With experts predicting that the virus will continue to spread for at least 18-24 more months, and even the most ambitious vaccine plans aiming for results early next year, our ability to adapt is what will keep us moving forward amidst the threat of COVID-19.
Although this health crisis is far from over, it doesn’t mean that your practice also needs to come to a complete halt. Now more than ever, medical offices like yours are crucial in keeping communities healthy and COVID-free. As long as proper health protocols are in place, and guidelines are followed, you can continue to serve your patients and deliver care.