COVID-19 has changed just about everything in our lives, including the way that patients seek care. Hospital and urgent care facilities remain critical as an access point for those exposed to the novel coronavirus, but many physician’s offices and smaller clinics are also open again to see patients.
Exposure to the novel coronavirus remains a serious concern for your patients’ health, particularly those who are at higher risk of complications or death. However, another serious consequence of the pandemic is that many patients are not seeking care even for routine health conditions because they are concerned about their safety. This can cause existing health conditions—particularly chronic conditions—to get worse. It could also allow conditions that might have been simple to treat if they were caught early to progress and become harder and more expensive to treat.
Early reports out of New York City showed that ER visits for non-COVID conditions were down 50%, while Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reported a 20 to 30% decline in patient visits. Here are four ways you can better protect patients and ensure they still get the care they need.
1: Offer Telemedicine Visits
One of the easiest ways to reduce exposure is through telemedicine software. This allows providers to see patients without the need to come into the clinic for most visits. In-person visits can be reserved for only the most severe cases or situations where a patient cannot be seen virtually. Telemedicine is ideal for patients with chronic health conditions who need to check in regularly with their physician but don’t always need to be in the exam room.
2: Use Online Tools for Check-in and Registration
We are learning that the virus spreads more easily indoors when people are near each other for a prolonged period of time. Along with requiring masks, sanitizing waiting room areas, and limiting crowds in the waiting room, you can further reduce exposure by using online check-in tools. Patients fill out all their paperwork in advance using a smartphone or computer so they can spend less time sitting in a waiting room around others.
3: Communicate Through a Patient Portal
A lot of the information you need to share with patients can be done through a patient portal. In addition to things like medication refill requests and lab result reporting, you can also send direct messages. This allows a patient to get answers to quick questions, which might help them avoid an unnecessary trip to your clinic where they could be exposed to others.
4: Sanitize Your Clinic Regularly and Practice Good Hygiene
All the technology tools in the world won’t substitute for good hygiene and cleaning practices. Consider upgrading your clinic air filtration system or adding some portable HEPA filters to circulate air, have your staff regularly wash hands, stock up on PPE, and sanitize high-touch surfaces regularly throughout the day.
To find out more about how you can get these technologies in your clinic to improve patient safety now during COVID-19 and in the future, contact AdvancedMD for a demo.