Every day, more practices are moving towards reopening their offices and preparing to resume regular patient care. Ensuring the safety of patients as well as staff means there are a number of considerations to take into account. Do you ever wish you could consult a universal physician practice guide to reopening? You’ve come to the right place. To assist you during this transition, we’ve created an integrative checklist for reopening your practice.
Adhere to Local Government Policy and CDC Recommendations
Each part of the country is experiencing different levels of impact related to the health crisis. While following federal rules and CDC guidance is important, don’t forget to follow the guidelines and requirements put in place by your local governing bodies. These mandates take into consideration specific activity seen in your area and advise on how best to move forward. Adhering to local government policy will help you provide the safest possible setting for both your staff and patients.
Talk to Your Patients About Reopening
Notify your patients about your plans to reopen and keep them in the loop on any new policies or safety measures that will affect them. Be sure to let your patients know how you’ve responded to COVID-19 and what they can be doing to protect themselves. Information you may want to provide includes proper handwashing techniques, the importance of social distancing, and your practice’s telehealth options. Contactless patient experience and communication tools, like Breeze, issue patient reminders and practice messaging with ease, while also providing you with an efficient, effective way to intake patients and communicate about appointments, clinic hours, practice updates, all while reducing exposure risk.
If at all possible, leveraging your practice’s telehealth capabilities during this time is ideal. According to a recent Practice Pulse survey conducted by CareCloud and MTBC, many physicians have significantly increased their usage of telehealth visits following the COVID-19 outbreak, and plan to continue with this technology in the post-COVID-19 landscape. Telehealth allows patients to benefit from the input of their trusted medical professional while staying safe at home. It also means clinicians and staff can offer safer treatment and care while minimizing the spread of the virus.
Screen In-Person Visits
If an appointment can’t be conducted via telehealth, it’s critical to assess the health of the patient before treatment. A pre-screening before the patient arrives for an in-person visit should verify that they’ve had no COVID-19 symptoms within the last 24 hours. Once the patient has arrived, additional screening should be conducted before the patient can enter the waiting area. Depending on your state, screenings may be performed via text message, or you may need to consider designating a staff member to evaluate patients upon arrival.
Implement a Contactless Patient Experience
Reduce frequent touchpoints throughout the clinic for in-person patient care. When reopening your practice, the goal is to eliminate as much unnecessary person-to-person contact as possible. Patient experience software turns frequently-touched paper and pens into taps and clicks, enabling patients to safely submit their medical information electronically, prior to their appointment. Points of care, such as patient payment transactions at the time of service, can also be contactless using digital payment technology.
Enforce Architectural Changes
Physical barriers at the reception desk and nurse stations, and educational signage reminding patients to stay 6 feet apart, are typical examples of architectural adaptations seen in some reopened practices. Reducing the number of waiting area chairs or eliminating a waiting area helps reinforce social distancing. Some facilities have created a workflow that requires patients to remain in their car. They are then notified by text message when the provider is ready to see them. Reopening measures like these may seem unusual, but they help promote safe care and treatment while reducing patient-to-patient exposure.
Address Staff Considerations
Reopening your office also raises the question of how much clinical staff you’ll need on-site. Perhaps nonessential staff members can continue working remotely, while others transition back to work within the office. Staying in compliance with local and state statutes around workplace best practices will help your staff feel safer about returning to work. Communicate with them regarding the architectural changes you plan to implement to ensure their continued protection and wellbeing in the days ahead. Preparation for employee concern – such as providing required employee leave and protocols for symptomatic employees – should also be instituted early and appropriately.
If you find your practice needs additional operational support, there are convenient, qualified solutions to help you regain your footing. Medical Billing Services and Practice Management Systems can provide your practice with ways to bridge the gap between busy schedules and the daily tasks that keep the practice running. With integrative tailored solutions for your financial, administrative, and clinical needs, consider outsourcing complicated billing matters so your practice works smarter, not harder, to reopen.
Successfully adapting your practice in a crisis is a steady process of achieving one objective after another. This medical practice reopening checklist can remove some of the guesswork and serve as a starting point for your own reopening efforts. As you reestablish, you’ll find that you can engage your patients safely and effectively while also enacting operational changes that protect your staff and help them to feel safe.