Many of our healthcare practitioner customers have had to deal with the sudden surge of patient inquiries about immune health. Practices have been overwhelmed trying to separate healthy patients from sick patients, keeping up with the skyrocketing demand for immune support products, working through manufacturer backorders, and taking steps to protect yourself and your staff.
The biggest questions we have been getting from many of you are: What's next? How should my practice handle patients in this new reality? How will COVID-19 impact my patient volume? I sold out through everything - how to best plan my supplement inventory without under- or overstocking?
Here are some ideas inspired by some of our practitioner customers:
1. Have your patients wash their hands as soon as they come in. If your waiting room layout allows it, set up a walkway directly into the bathroom before patients can go into your waiting area. If you have a good supply of gloves, you can also ask them to put on gloves before entering any of the patient rooms. That would also make them less likely to touch one of the dirtiest things on them - their cell phone.
2. Create a COVID-19 risk patient intake form. The patients would need to complete it before their visit. The form will evaluate their risk level by asking questions relating to symptoms, recent travel, or contact with sick individuals. The answers would determine if they need to be referred for testing, or their visit will have to be remote, or if it is acceptable to see them. You can even do this over the phone while confirming their appointment.
3. Follow the 6 foot rule. Let your patients know that your staff will keep a 6 ft distance whenever possible. They are not being rude by doing so. It is for everyone's protection.
4. Don't use items you cannot sterilize. If you don't have an easy way to sterilize any commonly used equipment, do not use it. A great example of this are blood pressure cuffs.
5. Prepare to transition to telemedicine. If you are not already setup through your EMR, you can easily sign up with solutions like Zoom.us or GoToMeeting.com. Both of them have HIPAA compliant video conferencing solutions at very affordable pricing. Set up only takes minutes, and they will allow you to still see patients remotely. Important news - the government announced yesterday that telehealth benefits will be extended to Medicare patients. HIPAA rules were just relaxed yesterday as well.
6. Let your patients know telemedicine visits are available. It is surprising how many practices introduce new service options but their patients don't know about it. Send them a quick email and let them know they can see you without leaving their home, especially if they have recently traveled or have symptoms of COVID-19.
7. Divert sick patients. If a patient is experiencing any symptoms or have a sick family member, advise them to keep their appointment but turn it into a telemedicine visit. That will allow you to still help your patients and maintain your practice revenues.
8. Expect your in-office supplement revenues to drop. Yes, we know right now you are experiencing a huge rush; however as people are asked to stay home, that will subside. Many people will also avoid any doctors' offices for fear of infection. Going to their doctor to replenish supplements will not likely be worth the risk to many. Have an option for them to call in their order, and for someone to deliver it to their car.
9. Make sure you have an online supplement storefront like Kaerwell. That will allow your patients to still purchase everything they need and have it delivered to their home. This option will also be a lifesaver for your supplement revenue! Kaerwell provides you with the ability to dispense over 1,200 supplement brands without having to do anything operationally other than making the recommendation. If you have your own private label, Kaerwell can also store and fulfill your orders through their Private Label Program.
10. Ask your staff for help. Ask your staff to ramp up efforts in communicating all new information to patients. They can also help with implementing a new operational flow to transition to remote visits. Engage your more tech savvy employees to train you on video conferencing platforms if you need help. Brainstorm ways to effectively generate revenue to keep the doors open and patients engaged. Your staff has as much to lose as you do if your practice closes even for a short time.
This is just a starting list of ideas. Hopefully you find them helpful. If you have any ideas you would like to share, please send them our way. Your colleagues will appreciate them.