How to restore outpatient services to pre-COVID levels?

8 Tips to Restore Outpatient Services to Pre-COVID Levels

COVID-19 has transformed the healthcare landscape. The pandemic has transformed how healthcare providers are treating patients and how patients are seeking healthcare. The non-COVID patient treatments and non-emergency surgeries have taken a backseat since COVID-19 arrived. This is due to the obvious strain on healthcare infrastructure and the general trend of avoiding medical facilities to avoid getting infected.

But now healthcare services need to strike a balance between providing necessary services while minimizing the risks to patients and healthcare providers.

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CSuite Solutions, a healthcare consulting firm, recommends several steps healthcare facilities can take to restore the outpatient services to the maximum possible level:

Short-term healthcare solutions:

  1. Optimize use of telehealth: The deployment of telehealth solutions and programs enables people suffering from other medical ailments to receive care without entering medical facilities, minimizing their risk of contracting the virus. The 3 benefits of telehealth services:
    1. Screen patients: Check remotely for COVID-like symptoms and remotely care for them thereby preventing the spread of infection.
    2. Remote routine care: Provide care for patients with chronic diseases remotely. This protects them from unnecessary exposure to infection by coming to the facility.
    3. Protect healthcare providers and staff: It is crucial to protect these assets from exposure to infection. A quarantine would only reduce the availability of precious help.
  1. Follow protocol: Compared to inpatient acute care settings, outpatient settings have traditionally lacked infrastructure and resources to support infection prevention and surveillance activities.  
    1. The infection prevention and control recommendations by WHO and CDC must be followed to minimize infection spread. At a minimum, outpatient facilities need to adhere to local, state, and federal requirements regarding reportable disease and outbreak reporting. 
    2. Visual alerts can be placed at entrances and in strategic places that instruct on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette.
    3. Setting up waiting rooms or using partitions and signs can help keep patients at least 6 feet apart.
    4. Continue to screen patients at entry points using automated fever detection devices. These devices are touchless with high-tech thermal detection technology.
    5. Protocol adherence is the first step to creating a safer facility.
  1. Educate and train healthcare personnel: Healthcare providers are the most precious asset today. As the pandemic evolves and new safety protocols come into play, the constant training and education of these assets are imperative to maintain safe outpatient operations and facilities.
  2. HR deployment and capacity building: Challenges of shortage, skewed distribution, and misalignment between health worker competencies and current/ future population health needs are already impacting the industry amid COVID-19. Strategies must be created to ensure the availability of healthcare workers, now and in the future.

 

Long-term healthcare solutions:

  1. Innovative and flexible facility design: Going forward, facilities must be designed to enable faster re-purposing of beds and to maximize infection control (for example, more single rooms, flexible HVAC systems). It is time to consider scaling up and designing multifaceted resources to cater to the new normal. 
  2. Elective care in dedicated facilities: As elective care becomes tough in these times, patients requiring complex/high-risk care, such as those with cancer, cannot wait for COVID to be eradicated. Dedicating specific areas, either within hospitals or in dedicated non-COVID-19 facilities may be the best answer. 
  3. Virtual care: Massive expansion of home-based care likely will be supplemented with artificial intelligence (AI). Virtual care via AI, phone-based diagnostics, and other virtual patient engagement platforms. This may become the first point of interaction for non-acute care. 
  4. Separation of ancillary functions: Functions such as imaging and lab tests may need to be segregated from core hospital operations. This may occur due to an accelerated demand for diagnostic testing during emergency responses to COVID-19.

These changes can be enabled with:

  • Technological advancements such as AI-based diagnostics, cloud-based storage of medical records, and integration of information across the care continuum in and outside the hospitals. 
  • Greater flexibility in reimbursement models from payers, and, in particular, for telehealth and home healthcare services. 
  • Consumer adoption will be crucial to sustaining the continued use of online/home-based services.  
  • Regulatory changes may be needed to develop new frameworks, especially as more service activities shift from hospitals to out-of-hospital care settings.

How can CSuite Solutions help?

With decades of experience transforming major healthcare systems, hospitals, and physician groups into efficient and financially robust operating organizations, the CSuite partners and senior advisors can help its clients achieve the pre-COVID outpatient services. How?

Quick Start is a CSuite solution that helps to accelerate the process of vetting and identifying opportunities in two key areas:

Existing core operations

Identifying opportunities to improve and optimize core operations to offset losses in this area.

New technologies, business initiatives, and strategies for growth

CSuite assists its clients to select and deploy proven value-based solutions that achieve quick results.

The three-step process:

  1. Flash Assessment: Employing a new and efficient process to quickly gather all the facts and assess the readiness of an organization to make the leap to value-based care delivery that also drives growth.
  2. Action plan: Providing a clearly structured plan with all the critical paths identified to become a successful value-based care provider.
  3. Implementation: With a detailed implementation plan that uses Agile Project
    Management, the c-level advisors closely guide the implementation of value-based growth initiatives.
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About CSuite Solutions 

CSuite Solutions was formed to attract the most senior and accomplished health care industry executives in their respective fields. They have spent most of their long careers transforming hospitals and major health care systems, physician groups, and other providers into efficient and financially robust operating organizations.

Besides two strategic growth partners, the CSuite Solutions advisory practice has strategic relationships with companies that provide unique healthcare solutions that can accelerate the strategic growth of health systems and other providers. 

To learn more about CSuite Solutions call at (813) 866-5100 or email at [email protected] Solutions.com