As practices, hospitals, and other medical organizations start to reopen to non-emergent/elective cases, providers must take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their patients.
While reopening to these cases will encourage the growth of patient volumes, increased patient engagement, and increased revenue for practices struggling due to COVID-19, providers should still slow down before flooding their waiting rooms. Below are mistakes to avoid as you reopen your independent medical practice amid the lift of COVID-19 restrictions.
Things to Avoid When Reopening:
1) Do Not Take Regulations Lightly
COVID-19 is still very much present in our nation, with new cases emerging each day. Each state has different guidelines and regulations in place to help prevent another spike of the virus across the country. Providers should take these regulations seriously as they plan their independent medical practice re-opening or as they begin seeing more patients. These regulations might include a limit on the number of people allowed in your independent medical practice at one time, or taking the temperature of each person entering your facility.
2) Do Not Open Your Doors to Too Many
While some patients need help attending their appointments, providers should be careful who they let in their independent medical practice. Be careful to set limits on the number of non-patient visitors allowed to enter your facility. This might include limiting non-patients to their vehicles or preventing visitors to enter the exam room. This might be difficult, but limiting the number of people in your independent medical practice will decrease person-to-person interaction and limit the spread of COVID-19.
3) Don’t Forget to Check Your Inventory
Before opening the doors to your independent medical practice, you might want to check-in with your suppliers to make sure you have the inventory you need to move forward. You might find that the suppliers are still limiting deliveries on certain items, like masks or gloves, and are still struggling to ship these things out on time. If your suppliers are still behind, this may delay your reopening or change your strategy.
4) Do Not Assume Your Patients Know What to Do
While there are many patients who take COVID-19 regulations extremely seriously, there are some who do not. It is best to assume that your patients are not aware of the regulations your independent medical practice needs to adhere to, and inform them at every opportunity. This might mean sending an extra notification/reminder of the changes your organization has implemented at this time and how important it is for patients to adhere to these guidelines.
Best Practices for Reopening Your Independent Medical Practice:
1) Stick to a Plan
Make sure your independent medical practice has a full-proof plan in place before reopening. This plan should include details like your new check-in processes, detailing how your patients and staff should interact through the duration of COVID-19. Some providers have transitioned to a car check-in process that keeps the patients out of the building until they are cleared to enter their designated room. A clear plan will help your staff know how to respond in order to keep everyone safe.
2) Open Slowly
Take your time to open up your practice to elective procedures and treatments. Independent medical practice should consider opening in phases, opening a little at a time to help everyone adjust while keeping them safe.
3) Continue Evaluating Inventory
Even if your practice has enough inventory to operate as normal, it is best to still ration it through the duration of the pandemic. It is expected that there will be another spike of the virus in the United States before a solution is found, and it will not hurt for you independent medical practice to have extra supplies on hand should that happen.
4) Continue Using Telehealth
Continue using virtual visit alternatives whenever possible. Even if your independent medical practice is allowing more in-person visits, telehealth is still a vital tool to help your practice stay busy while keeping your patients and staff safe. For eligible visits, providers should consider the continued use of telehealth.
To learn more about other strategies to keep your patients and staff safe as you plan to see more patients, click here.