Preparing for a New Normal
Monday, April 27, 2020
Hopefully sooner rather than later, you will be given the “all clear” to resume your practice, at least on a limited basis. Now is the time to get ready for that return to a new normal. Start by creating a plan and then methodically work the plan. Before you start seeing patients, you need to prepare your office. Remember that as a practice owner, you have been trusted with the well-being of your staff as well as your patients.
- Follow trusted sources like the CDC and your professional organizations for:
- Preparing the treatment rooms.
- Returning and cleaning items to your waiting rooms.
- Check your supplies
- Do you have enough? Or do you need to order more?
- Review expiration dates
- Test any onsite equipment
As it is likely the country’s “reopening” may start in waves, reopening requirements might come with some guidelines such as asking patients pre-treatment questions (triaging), like exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms. Be prepared to triage by creating a policy or procedure for your practice so everyone is consistent in triaging the patient.?You can do this with a form the patient can read and sign along with staff. Other considerations include:
- Prioritize your patients. Those at high risk and/or with co-morbidities should get priority.
- Consider having special days or times set aside for patients at high risk for COVID-19, similar to how many retail “essential” businesses are doing now.
- Share this information with patients so they understand.
- Provide pre-visit instructions to patients with appointments (such as the triage questions) so they know what to expect
- Limit the number of patients in your waiting room
- Develop plans as to whether you are accepting new patients
- Determine the hours you will be offering (longer or shorter)
- If you initiated telehealth, are you going to continue that?
- Consider adding a few extra minutes between appointments so you can sterilize each patient area.
Keep an administrative log of key dates such as:
- When you stopped seeing (or limited) patient visits
- When you resume your new normal/regular practice
- When you initiated telemedicine
Be aware that any changes — HIPAA guidelines, for example — that were “relaxed” during the pandemic may go back to being enforced.
While our new “normal” may look different than it did before, following these guidelines may help you get back into your routine as soon as possible.