4 Operational Changes to Improve Pandemic Patient Access to Care
Topic: 4 Operational Changes to Improve Pandemic Patient Access to Care
Healthcare organizations working to enable post-pandemic patient access to care may consider a number of operational overhauls and revamping time-tested engagement strategies, according to a report from the Medical Group Management Association.
The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic push healthcare organizations across the country to shutter their doors to non-urgent and non-emergency healthcare access. This move, which intended to cut down on patient volume, reserve resources for the surge in coronavirus cases, and protect patients and staff, also harmed business for clinics in the US.
But now organizations are able to reopen, creating an opportunity to recoup lost revenue and meet patient healthcare needs. In June, 57 percent of patients said they had healthcare needs that needed immediate attention, and organizations were poised to do just that.
But reopening a healthcare facility while the nation is still reeling from a deadly viral pandemic is no easy task. In July, most healthcare leaders (87 percent) agreed that safety was the top reason patients deferred care during the pandemic, and will be integral to gaining patient trust to come back into the office for treatment.
“Through this period of uncertainty and anxiety during a global pandemic, patients still need care,” Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MMM, FAAP, FACMPE, and MGMA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“One of the keys to restoring patient visit volumes and avoiding deferred care is ensuring that these patients feel safe when returning to their medical practice office. Medical practices need to win patients’ trust and this benchmarking data will allow medical practices to make necessary adjustments that will allow them to remain competitive in this ever-evolving industry.”
In addition to deploying cleaning protocol and other patient safety measures, healthcare organizations may consider a number of operational changes that will make it easier for them to comply with social distancing recommendations, MGMA advised.
EXPANDING OPERATING HOURS
Central to keeping patients safe — and making them feel safe — will be allowing both patients and providers to maintain adequate distance from one another. This will require healthcare organizations to keep clinic volumes down at a given moment in time, and will therefore call for expanded operating hours.
Prior to the pandemic, most clinician offices were open for about nine hours each day during the business week.
Organizations may contemplate keeping their doors open for more hours during the day, or having some weekend hours. This will help organizations spread out patient appointment times, stagger staff, and keep more efficient schedules.
Topic Discussed: 4 Operational Changes to Improve Pandemic Patient Access to Care