For specialty providers, the odds of needing to actually treat patients with COVID-19 are incredibly low. However, there are still certain actions that specialty providers should be taking to minimize the risk of exposure for staff, patients and themselves.
Take Reasonable Precautions
This is not a time for panic, but for calm action. Here are some (reasonable) actions that should be taken by all healthcare practices:
- Stock the lobby with facial tissues (as well as a trash bin) and hand sanitizer
- Monitor local and national news outlets to stay abreast of confirmed cases in your region
- Advise staff and patients on proper hygiene and handwashing procedures, and ensure these are being performed in the office
- Inform staff that they are not to come to work if they feel sick or have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 (don’t forget, the virus has an incubation period of up to two weeks)
- Consider temporarily implementing a remote work policy, if possible, so that only operationally critical staff are physically on site at the practice
- Avoid any unnecessary interstate or international travel, and consider cancelling attendance to any large public events
We encourage our readers to use the following official resources to find current information on appropriate courses of action and to track new cases:
- CDC’s COVID-19 Resources (updated live)
- World Health Organization (WHO) Rights, Roles & Responsibilities of Health Workers
- OSHA Guidance on Workplace Preparation for COVID-19
- COVID-19 Global Cases Live Map by the CSSE at Johns Hopkins University
Make Use of Your EHR/PM’s Mobile and Communication Tools
Reducing the number of physical interactions in your practice is a good way to minimize exposure risks for yourself and staff. One excellent way to protect your practice from unnecessary risk is to make full use of the communication tools offered by your EHR/PM solutions, such as patient portals, direct messaging and email/text notifications. If an interaction can be securely performed without a physical office visit, then it should be.
The COVID-19 outbreak is causing a lot of fear right now. Instead of adding to the panic, however, calm and reasonable actions should be taken by all healthcare professionals during this trying time. Nextech will continue to monitor local, state and federal guidelines and will keep our readers informed as the situation develops.
For guidance or information on Nextech’s communication tools that can help your practice navigate the current crisis, we encourage you to contact our team.