There has been a lot of focus in recent months around how medical practices can safely open back up to welcome patients. While this is a very important part of any practice in terms of continuing to provide exceptional patient care and meet the needs of patients in your community, there is another side to reopening that is sometimes less of a focus: return-to-work procedures to ensure the safety of you and your employees.
Some healthcare services are essential and never shut down, like ICU and emergency care. But for clinics that did shut down to prevent the spread of disease and mitigate the danger of COVID-19 exposure to patients, providers, and staff, there are some important considerations and steps to take when opening back up—and not everyone is getting it right. Before you require everyone to come back to work, here are some things to address.
Evaluate Work Roles
Some of your employees may be able to continue to work from home even while others return to work. For example, employees on your medical coding and billing teams can often safely perform their duties from home and avoid additional or unnecessary exposure in the workplace. Make sure they have a secure connection to access patient data so you don’t risk violating HIPAA, which could lead to hefty fines.
Implement Necessary Safeguards
All your employees should be used to wearing PPE as a protective measure for patients and themselves but increasing evidence that COVID-19 can spread even from asymptomatic individuals through aerosols means that extra measures are necessary. If you haven’t already installed things like plexiglass shields between your reception desk and waiting area, now is the time to do so. Offer staff additional PPE if it’s available as well, such as face shields, glasses, and N95 respirator masks.
Enhance Cleaning Protocols
Your clinic was also likely conducting regular cleaning, but COVID-19 may require that you increase cleaning protocols. You can find additional guidance from OSHA, the CDC, and your local health department.
Evaluate the Necessity of In-Person Visits
While most clinics have long operated on a model where providers see patients in person for everything—from an annual check-up and preventive screenings to acute care—that may not be necessary and you could increase staff and patient safety by moving some of those visits online through telemedicine. It’s important to objectively evaluate what types of visits could safely be moved online and avoid defaulting to “everyone needs an in-person visit.” You will be surprised at how effective a telemedicine visit can be for most patient visit types.
For clinics without existing telemedicine capabilities, AdvancedMD offers easy-to-use telemed software. Our cloud-based platform means you can be up and running with the capability to offer telemedicine quickly, and it can integrate with most EHRs, practice management software, scheduling, and other programs for a seamless patient and provider experience. Find out more by scheduling a demo with AdvancedMD today.