The health care heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic have rightly received the lion’s share of attention and kudos. Without them, we couldn’t have navigated the crisis.
During this second wave of COVID-19 infections that began swelling across the nation, ambulatory — or outpatient — care will play a critical role. Many ambulatory treatments were suspended or postponed during the first wave. Now, with a better knowledge of the virus that causes COVID-19 and how to control the spread, those providing ambulatory care can continue amidst the breakout.
Ambulatory Care Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
First-wave shutdowns of ambulatory care facilities and the suspension of most appointments occurred because we were just learning about the COVID-19 virus. Physicians didn’t want to put patients at risk, so they canceled many voluntary procedures.
With months of additional preparation, ambulatory care is now prepared. We have implemented procedures and safety protocols to protect our patients throughout their appointments and other types of care. The widespread adoption of telemedicine is one such measure.
While we can’t handle every appointment virtually, we can do many of them this way. A post-surgery follow-up, for instance, often doesn’t require an office visit. The more interactions we carry out virtually, the less chance for the COVID-19 virus to spread. We can also implement telemedicine based on community spread levels. When infection rates rise, we can increase our telemedicine offerings.
Flexibility is vital in combatting the COVID-19 virus, and we’ll continue to adopt policies to protect our patients based on the latest knowledge and developments. Other new policies being implemented for ambulatory care may include:
- Changing schedules so appointments are more spaced out, meaning fewer people in the building.
- Universal mask-wearing by patients and staff.
- Cleaning exam rooms between appointments and deep cleaning the waiting room.
A New Wave of Virtual Communications
A critical component of COVID-19 pandemic ambulatory care is updated communication methods that can help keep both patients and physicians informed in the event of changes. Doctor’s offices are trying new things such as checking in patients virtually and screening for symptoms using apps prior to appointments.
Some doctor’s offices have adopted apps that can check in patients from their cars when they arrive at the facility. This way, patients spend less time around others in the waiting room and can also update their information electronically, if needed.
We’re also stepping up communications with vulnerable populations to reassure them of our updated safety measures and ensure they get the right care. No one in need of ambulatory care should skip an appointment out of fear.
Schedule an Appointment at OrthoBethesda
Do you need ambulatory care during the COVID-19 pandemic? You can count on OrthoBethesda to use professional safety measures based on the latest science. Contact us today to discuss our policies or make an appointment.