Health care delivery is undergoing unprecedented change in the wake of COVID-19. To reduce the threat of transferring the virus to patients and healthcare workers, medical clinics are altering their delivery of health care. Providers are deferring elective and preventative office visits and favoring telemedicine visits to avoid exposure to the virus. Here are three changes that COVID-19 is bringing to health care and ultimately to your medical clinic.
Extensive Use of Telehealth
Due to COVID-19, medical clinics are optimizing the use of telemedicine. The restricted supply of personal protective equipment is forcing clinics to use telehealth to screen patients as often as possible. Telehealth enables providers to screen patients who may have symptoms of COVID-19 and refer these patients as appropriate. The service allows patients to access primary care providers and specialists for health conditions and medication management.
Among the many benefits of using telehealth during the pandemic include:
- Remote clinical monitoring of medical conditions
- Case management for those who have difficulty accessing care
- Following up with the patient’s post–hospital discharge
- Delivering advance care planning and counseling to patients
- Providing non-emergent care to residents of long-term care facilities
Safety Measures for Patients and Staff
Expect varied schedules that avoid high volume or density to ensure that patients do not come in close contact with each other. Institutions will be designating separate waiting areas for well and sick patients. You can anticipate flexible schedules to avoid backups in the waiting area. There will be few patient companions unless their presence is a necessity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all individuals who enter a medical office to wear a cloth face covering. This requirement is now a standard procedure for all patients who enter a medical facility. All medical facilities will probably have masks on hand to provide to those patients who arrive without one.
Health care employees will receive screenings for high temperature and other symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival to the medical clinic. These workers will be minimizing contact as much as possible. Minimal contact will commence with the screening process and continue throughout the length of the visit.
A Rearrangement of Work Areas
COVID-19 has made it time to rearrange the furniture. You can expect an alteration of work areas within medical clinics to increase the distance between people who are working. There will be a dedication of workstations and patient rooms to minimize the number of people touching the same pieces of medical equipment. There will also be an increase in communication with facilities management regarding cleaning schedules and protocols regarding shared spaces like the kitchen and bathrooms.
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