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Succeed Through the Surge: 4 Steps to Keep Your Practice Running Smoothly During a Difficult Winter

Posted on Dec 10, 2020 by Lori Boyer

    Succeed through the surgeWe all know that 2020 has been a rough year. And while reports of an effective vaccine is a ray of hope on the horizon, we know that challenges currently abound. As is typical for this time of year, cooler weather is sending the masses indoors, seeking shelter from the weather. Throw in the gatherings and holiday celebrations, and experts are understandably concerned. Already, COVID-19 cases have surged to the highest levels seen during the pandemic. Unfortunately, they are likely to continue to rise and stay high throughout the winter.

    For healthcare practices, the pandemic brings the daunting challenge of keeping patients and staff safe and happy while ensuring the business aspect of the practice survives as well. There are steps you can take to make this happen.


    On Dec 16, I will be hosting two webinars to discuss this topic in depth. Register now!

    Dental: Register Now

    • When: Wed, Dec 16, 2020/ 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern
    • 1 CE Credit available

    Vision/Medical: Register Now

    • When: Wed, Dec 16, 2020. 2:30pm Pacific/5:30pm Eastern


    Step 1: Be ready for inevitable illnesses and exposure.

    With the COVID-19 virus running so rampant throughout the country, at some point or another, staff members are likely to become infected. Many practices have already experienced this and will continue to do so throughout the pandemic. If you do not already have a plan to manage these exposures or illnesses, now is the time to get one in place. If you do have a plan, now is a great time to revisit it and make sure you are following the guidance set out by the CDC. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

    What if a patient tests positive?

    Many practices have already experienced a patient who came in for an appointment only to test positive for COVID-19 later. Instituting a specific plan that you follow each time this occurs reduces the stress and burden on employees. Designate a specific employee (and a backup) to employ this plan. Basic recommendations from the CDC include:

    • Identify each staff member who had contact with the patient
    • Assess the level of risk for each staff member and take action:
      • High risk: Contact within six feet of patients for 15 minutes or more and the staff member was NOT wearing proper PPE. This person should quarantine for 14 days after exposure.
      • Low risk: Contact of less than 15 minutes or at a distance farther than six feet OR if the staff was wearing proper PPE at all times. Continue working, but be extra vigilant to wear PPE and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
    • Clean and disinfect practice according to CDC direction found here.

    What if a staff member tests positive?

    During the pandemic, it is highly likely that a staff member will contract the virus at some point. ProceduresA mask for when this occurs should include the following guidelines:

    • The positive staff member must quarantine for 14 days.
    • Notify all office staff of diagnosis and ask when they were last in contact with the sick individual. Get as detailed information as possible. Date of contact? Length of contact? Distance from individual? Any symptoms?
    • Follow guidelines for quarantine:
    • High risk: Contact within six feet for 15 minutes or more and the exposed staff member was NOT wearing proper PPE. This person should quarantine for 14 days after exposure.
    • Low risk: Contact of less than 15 minutes or at a distance farther than six feet OR if the exposed staff member was wearing proper PPE at all times. Continue working, but be extra vigilant to wear PPE and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
    • Clean and disinfect practice according to CDC direction found here.
    • Ask all staff to seek testing regardless of risk status and keep you informed of symptoms
    • Contact all patients who may have had contact with positive employee. Recommend they quarantine if they have any symptoms.

    What if a provider tests positive?

    When a doctor test positive for COVID-19, the process is similar. However, there is the additional challenge of dealing with rescheduling appointments. Here are a few recommendations for handling the situation when a provider tests positive:

    • Treat a positive test by a provider in the same way you would treat any staff member.
    • Develop a plan to reschedule patients.
    • Create wording to let patients know of the absence. If the doctor may return to the practice quickly, a generic “We’ve had an unexpected change in our schedule and won’t be able to see you today. Are you free on X day instead?” works well. If the doctor may be out for a longer period, honesty is always a good policy.
    • Don’t try to call every patient. Use text message, preferably automated text message, to reach out instead.

    Step 2: Mitigate employee stress

    Stress levels in the United States (and around the globe) are running at very high levels right now. This is certainly true for the staff members of every healthcare practice. Unfortunately, high levels of stress have a dramatic impact on the overall productivity of a practice. In addition, when stress becomes too much, the number of employees who call in sick or simply quit skyrockets.

    It’s easy to see why a recent McKinsey report warned that employees and their mental health is the “asset” that office managers and owners should be paying the most attention to right now.  As they put it, “almost a year into the crisis, employees are crying out for more support.” 

    To read the full report, download the complete guide. Learn more

    And don't forget to join us in one of our two webinar sessions where we will be diving into these topics in depth.

    Dental: Register Now

    • When: Wed, Dec 16, 2020/ 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern
    • 1 CE Credit available

    Vision/Medical: Register Now

    • When: Wed, Dec 16, 2020. 2:30pm Pacific/5:30pm Eastern

     

    Lori Boyer

    Lori Boyer

    Lori Boyer has spent over a decade developing content and customer strategy for a wide variety of companies. She especially loves "walking a mile" in the shoes of her target audience. At Solutionreach we focus on relationships - building and maintaining them. She does the same. Lori Boyer is a lover of crisp fall mornings, a good book, and just about anything Beauty and the Beast related.

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