Are you in the midst of changing your practice processes to enact safety measures to keep your staff and patients safe in light of the pandemic? You are not alone. It is up to everyone to take proper measures to keep not only ourselves safe but to ensure those around us remain as safe as possible, too. As a healthcare provider, one area that needs to take center stage is how we arrange our practice’s waiting room(s). A practice’s waiting room creates an exposure risk that needs to be addressed.
Before jumping into tips on social distancing and your practice’s waiting room, let’s define social distancing.
Social Distance Definition
The CDC provides a general definition of social distancing as keeping space between yourself and those outside of your living space. “Physical distancing” is another phrase often used when referring to keeping space between individuals in the social distance definition.
Tips for a Socially Distanced Waiting Room
Alert Patients of Policy Changes
As your practice begins to restructure, continue to communicate with your patients as policies change. Some changes that may take place include the following…
- Limits to who is able to enter a practice
- Only allowing the sick to enter the practice
- Restrictions on children entering the clinic
- Requiring patients to wear masks
- Providing PPE if patients do not have it
- Requiring patients to stay in their vehicles until called
- Pre-screening for virus symptoms prior to office admission
These are just some examples as to protocols that your practice may choose to follow as you restructure your practice to allow for social distancing. Actively alert patients of these change when they scheduling their appointments and remind them of changes the day before their visit to ensure they follow protocols. This will be a shift for all involved, however, it minimizes exposure risk for staff and patients alike.
Screen Patients Prior to Admission
For many workers, temperature screenings are an everyday occurrence before entering into a workplace. For a practice, pre-screening stations at practice entrances may be a safety protocol to ease anxieties and minimize exposure risk for patients entering into your clinic. Pre-screening include more than just a temperature check, they also include…
- Symptom history
- Short 4-5 questions
- Virus testing
- Providing PPE
Depending on how this screening goes, a patient would then be admitted into a waiting room, exam room, or sent to a local hospital if they have severe symptoms. This process goes a long way in keeping patients and staff safe. It also often falls right in line with information your practice would typically gather… it’s just happening a bit earlier in the process and for a different (more preventative) reason.
Limit/Stagger Patient Appointments
Another way to promote social distancing in your waiting room is to limit the number of patients in your practice at any given time. Your practice has the ability to limit or stagger the patient load on any given day. By limiting the number of patients being seen at your office, your staff places distance between where patients sit. This also gives your staff time to properly disinfect areas.
One thing to be said here is that practices will inevitably see less patients by limiting appointments. Practices that choose to go this route may want to experiment with extended practice hours or in providing telehealth visits. Telehealth visits enable providers to see more patients while eliminating the need for more foot traffic into the office. In order to continue driving a positive revenue stream, extended hours or telehealth visits may be crucial.
Implement a Digital Patient Intake Solution
Digital patient intake solutions allow patients to submit necessary check-in information online through their own personal smart device without stepping foot inside your practice. This means patients stay in their car, or even at their own house and submit…
- Insurance card photo(s)
- Driver’s license photo
- Family history
- Chief complaint
- Consent Forms
This tool automates a manual process for your practice while limiting the exposure risk for your staff and patients. Improve efficiency, provide secure patient access, and improve the patient experience overall while promoting social distancing initiatives.
Ready to get started with a digital patient intake solution and promote social distance in your waiting room? CHADIS Pre-visit Questionnaire Solution is available for your practice. Learn more at micromd.com/marketplace or call us at 800.624.8832.
About the author,
Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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