Female doctor holding a stethoscope to her arm.

Using these guidelines can help you maneuver important management decisions for your private medical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.There have been 2 million coronavirus cases as of April 2020, and more than 100,000 deaths worldwide. The disease reached pandemic levels in March after spreading to nearly every country.
The virus spreads through droplets that come from infected people’s mucus and saliva. Once inside the body, the virus can thrive and develop into COVID-19. This disease creates symptoms similar to the flu and pneumonia, however, it often affects individuals differently.

Due to the virus’ rapid spread, medical facilities across the United States are experiencing difficulties. In the face of this crisis, your private medical practice will need to make many new decisions. Doing so can help keep your practice operational during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Review Your Emergency Response Plan

You may already have an emergency plan in place to address natural disasters and more. Emergency Response plans can help you maintain an organized practice in the face of a crisis. During the coronavirus outbreak, it’s essential to review your plan and adjust as needed.

At the least, your plan should include procedures for communication, staffing, and financial contingencies. One unique aspect of the coronavirus crisis is how it affects health care providers. Make sure you clearly convey to staff members how you plan to navigate through the pandemic. Many practices that have transitioned to Telehealth have seen a reduction in staffing requirements. Let your employees know that your making these decisions in their best interest as well as that of the practice. Reassure them that your goal is to keep them and patients safe, so that everyone can return to work when it is safe to do so. If your practice is still open, employees should also understand guidelines to stay home if they develop any symptoms or have been exposed to someone who had contracted COVID-19.

Develop a New Communication Plan

Throughout the pandemic, the news is changing every day. You’ll need to adjust your communications to keep your patients and staff informed every step of the way.

Conduct routine staff check-ins every day and come prepared with local and national news. Understanding the state of the virus will allow your practice to feel more prepared. These meetings can also provide a set time and place for staff members to ask their questions.

Stay informed with the coronavirus’s effects on your community. Create open communication with other local health providers. You can keep your practice safe by developing a proactive approach toward communicating. Reach out to your state department of health. You should know exactly who to call in the event where you’re understaffed or in need of more supplies.

Keep your patients up-to-date through calls or emails. Don’t hesitate to reach out whenever you have updates and news. Share your new protocols and business operations. You can also direct patients to your website and social media for continual updates.

Reevaluate Your Business Operations

The CDC and many state governments have issued guidelines limiting any non-essential services. Medical care is essential in most cases, though this may not include all services.
If you own dental practice, your government may only allow you to stay open for emergencies. Yet, you may need to hold-off on routine cleanings for the time being. Take this time to stay updated with your state’s recent coronavirus laws. From there, decide how to adjust your physician practice operations. Many doctors’ offices are staying open for walk-in emergencies. For non-essential service, you can offer telehealth appointments instead.

Google has unveiled a virtual care offering that medical practices can add to their Google Business profile. By adding virtual care to your profile, new and current patients will see that you offer telehealth appointments. The platform offers an easy way to schedule appointments quickly and allows you to notify patients that you’re still in business.
Check all the services your practice offers. Which could help mitigate the pandemic? Which ones might otherwise lead to spreading the disease? Limiting your business operations may help keep your community safe.

Develop a Human Resources Plan

Due to the pandemic, Medical facilities may face limited business operations and revenue. This may lead to furloughing your staff or even laying them off. Though this might seem like a bad decision, it can keep your practice operating in the long-term.

Even if you’re able to continue operations, you’ll need to lessen the risk of infecting your staff. Look into your state’s updated laws about paid sick leave. The government passed the Families First Coronavirus Act in March. This legislation requires certain employers to provide expanded sick leave.

Evaluate Your Medical Supply Needs

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators are running short throughout the world. This is especially true in the United States. In New York, health care workers don’t have enough protective gear to stay protected from infected patients.

Take the time to evaluate your practice’s medical supply stock. If you’ll be handling COVID-19 patients, you need PPE to stay protected. Create a list of hand sanitizers, facemasks, single-use gloves, single-use tissues, no-touch trash bins and more.

The CDC has released helpful guidelines on how to optimize and reuse some equipment. Keep in mind that reusing equipment should be a last-resort procedure. If you’re able to order more equipment, do so as soon as possible.

Develop New Patient Procedures

Limit the risks to your practice by developing new visitation procedures for patients. Unless you offer COVID-19 testing, ask your patients to stay home for non-emergencies. This may help limit your exposure to the virus. Yet, the CDC still recommends that practices take patients regardless of their symptoms.
To be safe, evaluate each new patient through non-physical methods. You may be able to conduct a screening over the phone or send an online assessment.

Try to limit the number of patients you see per day so there isn’t crowding within your facility. If many patients are there at the same time, place helpful markings on the floor or on the walls so they know to stand at least six feet apart.
Post a medical office sign in your facility to notify patients of your new procedures. Patients should know that they’ll face limited contact with doctors and nurses. You may also limit your office hours for incoming patients.

Keep Your Private Medical Practice Informed

We’re all facing difficult times, and your private medical practice will also face unique management decisions. To make the best decisions for yourself, your staff and your patients, stay informed. Maintain contact with your state government to understand their latest coronavirus laws. Use the CDC as your source for all health information and guidelines related to COVID-19.

Contact Doctors Management today for help managing your medical practice throughout the coronavirus.

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