*Re-opening guidelines are on a state by state basis and this blog does not offer legal advice.
Starting May 1, many states are beginning to re-open the economy, which includes non-essential medical treatments and procedures. In the coming weeks, all states will start opening up. Whether you are able to start scheduling patients tomorrow or in a month, there are things you can do to open your office with confidence after the pandemic.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Even if you have had to furlough your medical staff, you can call a staff meeting to discuss plan to re-open. If you plan to bring them back a little at a time, let them know what day they can expect to return to work. If you aren’t clear with them regarding the schedule in the coming weeks, they may not be available to you. With the states beginning to re-open, employees are using this time off to travel or handle things they haven’t had time to do.
Before you can see patients in the office, the staff must be briefed on the procedures outlined by the state and the board that governs your area of practice. The staff should be gathered at least a day in advance to go over training that includes:
Whatever the state boards have outlined should be understood by everyone in the office. Practice how you will get patients into the ops, through treatment, and out of the office with as little exposure to the staff and other patients as possible.
Social distancing guidelines still need to be in place, even though states are opening back up medical and dental offices. Therefore, you should aim to reduce what the patient needs to touch during the intake and checkout process. You can do this by sending them their forms online to fill out prior to coming into the office.
For check-out, consider finding a resource that will allow you to take online payments. Many credit card processors are setting up an online payment to help businesses during this time. You can text them a link to pay online while they are still in the office.
All medical and support staff needs access to PPE. The level of PPE will depend on the position and the treatment that is being done. The CDC recommends that holistic dental offices will need a N95 mask with eye goggles that have side shields for any procedures that create an aerosol. Medical offices that intubate will also need that same protective gear. If an N95 mask is not available, a level 3 surgical mask can be worn with a face shield.
Since PPE is hard to come by, you should begin looking for the supplies necessary to open. If you have limited supplies on hand now, create a plan to conserve those supplies. For example, an N95 mask can be protected with a level 1 surgical mask to prolong wear.
Patients should be alerted to the procedures they can expect upon arrival. Send out an email to your patient base and create a page on the site that outlines what they must do. The state board will outline for you exactly what patients must do before entering the office for treatment. This can include:
Whatever guidelines that a patients must follow, they need to be informed ahead of time. Your staff will need to carve out a longer time on the phone to explain what they need to do.
It is recommended that you stagger patients so that there is less possibility for contact. If you can create one-way hallways, that will help with the process. Schedule patients’ appointments with enough time in-between that they are not in the waiting room together or in the halls at the same time.
Also, you will want to start calling patients with the greatest need and get them on the books. In order to help production, plan on putting paying patients in the morning, and re-treats in the afternoons.
During this time, the team at Functional Medicine SEO is ready to help potential patients find you. Since every alternative medicine office and holistic dental office will open at a different pace, patients may be looking for other doctors to help them. Many people have had to push off procedures and treatments they really need. If their normal office is not available to them, they’ll look for other solutions. Also, many people have had medical concerns come up during the stay-at-home orders and they’ll be looking for treatment as soon as possible.
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