It’s clearer each passing day that not only is the world changing, but the way healthcare is practiced is changing as well. Returning to the way things were before with crowded waiting rooms and little in the way of personal protective equipment (PPE) is unsafe and illogical.
We discussed some of the long term changes in our last post, What the Future of Healthcare Could Look Like, but let’s take a look at what practices are doing right now to mitigate the risk of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI).
Doctors offices, especially smaller practices, are often incredibly concentrated with various germs and bacteria due to unwell patients visiting to find a solution. On average, wait times for doctors appointments can be over 18 minutes, and this is plenty of time for a person to contract any number of ailments.
Changing the format in which the waiting period prior to actually seeing a healthcare practitioner can significantly cut down on the risk associated with HAI.
Many practices are implementing a process where patients remain in their car and call the office to check in, and are then notified to come in when the doctor is ready to see you.
Additionally, for offices that are maintaining a standard waiting room setup, they are making efforts to practice enforced social distancing by only placing seating at least 6 feet apart and requiring patients to use face masks and hand sanitizer upon entry.
1 in 25 patients per year is affected by a HAI, and one of the primary ways to help combat this is by improving the indoor air quality of the private practice. Many healthcare facilities employ air filtration systems equipped with HEPA filters with high enough pathogen efficacy rates to meet government regulations.
Additionally, practices have been employing much stricter cleaning protocol within their practices. Updates to cleaning practices include more frequent cleanings, like sanitizing high traffic items and surfaces like counter tops and writing utensils, as well as more thorough aspects like removing unnecessary items like children’s toys and magazines to reduce spread of bacteria.
The structure of the way appointments are scheduled is another aspect of the doctor visit process that is changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many healthcare networks with multiple offices under the same umbrella are relegating particular offices to be solely for patients diagnosed with or with symptoms of COVID-19, so as to lower the risk of non-COVID patients being exposed to the virus.
If there are locations with only one office, many practices are designating specific times of day for COVID-related or similar type appointments to minimize risk as much as possible, despite not being able to completely separate.
We discussed the importance of cleaning in the last section, it’s worth restating that it is especially important in situations like these where all patients are at higher risk either.
Another way practitioners mitigate the risk of infection is with the recent surge in conversions to telemedicine appointments. This became a necessity in the depths of the pandemic, but many practices are opting to continue implementing telehealth visits whenever possible to continue helping stop the spread of the virus.
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