The last few months have been quite a roller coaster ride, to say the least. And despite what some had hoped in recent weeks, it looks like the wild ride of COVID-19 is not going to be over any time soon. Not by a longshot. Over 21 states have already reported spikes in the number of infections, with the highest surges in California, Texas and Florida. In response, earlier this week Governor Greg Abbott of Texas issued an executive order to suspend elective surgeries in order to increase hospital bed capacity. Other states may soon have to do the same.
Some have been viewing this new surge as an early arrival of the “second wave” of COVID-19 that was already predicted to hit in the fall of 2020. The sad truth, however, is that the United States never successfully made it out of the first wave. With some states reopening too soon, widespread civil unrest and certain sections of the population refusing to wear masks or follow social distancing protocols, Americans have become stuck in the first wave of the outbreak and are now dealing with more cases than ever before. Unfortunately, it is very likely that the situation is only going to escalate from here. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top CDC expert, has already stated that the virus has now reached levels that are beyond control or containment. Soon, we are likely to see a return to state-ordered lockdowns and more suspensions of elective medical procedures.
The point is this—specialty providers need to start taking steps now to make sure their practices are ready this time.
Prepare for What’s to Come
While it remains to be seen how the next few months will play out, healthcare providers can at least make some pretty solid predictions based on what occurred when the outbreak was initially declared. This time, luckily, it is far less likely that practices will be caught completely off their guard as they were back in March. To help our readers better navigate this new surge of COVID-19, here is a list of links to helpful articles that offer guidance on how to respond to whatever comes:
- COVID-19: Patient & Practice Health
- Creating a Pandemic Response Team in Your Practice
- The Crisis Ready Practice
- Managing Change
- Forming & Maintaining an Effective Remote Team
Your Practice Needs the Right Technology
While preparation is important, having the right technology is paramount to your practice’s crisis readiness, for COVID-19 or any other emergency situation. When the world gets a little more chaotic than usual, the right technology can help providers and staff maintain a sense of order while they try to continue offering quality care. To make sure your practice is equipped to handle any crisis, the following technology is highly recommended:
- Cloud-based EHR & Practice Management – A cloud-based solution simplifies both data security and mobility while allowing both providers and staff to more easily transition into a remote workforce when needed.
- Patient Portal – A patient portal will help to reduce the amount of people that are in the office by allowing patients to handle many tasks online, including insurance updates, paying bills, scheduling appointments (or telehealth visits) and more.
- Telehealth Solution – In the current healthcare market, a telehealth solution is a critical piece of technology as it allows providers to conduct appointments with patients in a virtual care setting that does not require physical interaction.
- e-Prescribing – An e-Prescribing solution is also essential, as it eliminates the need for patients to come in for prescriptions and refills. This reduces in-office traffic and minimizes exposure risk for providers and staff.
These are indeed scary times for everyone, but especially for those in healthcare. While the continuation of the COVID-19 first wave in the United States is indeed disheartening for many of us, the good news is that this time it is not sneaking up on us. We have time to get ready. However, the moment for action is now. Do not hinder your practice’s ability to respond by waiting until you are once again required to suspend procedures or close your practice doors.
For detailed instructions on how to form and maintain a fully crisis ready practice, see our new white paper The Crisis Ready Practice: Developing a Risk Management Strategy. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Nextech has remained committed to ensuring users have the resources, information and technology needed to adapt to the dramatic changes taking place in healthcare. To learn more about how Nextech can help your practice adopt best practices and create a long-term strategy for overall success, fill out this form and a member of our team will be in touch.