1. Manage change on an ongoing basis
With the situation changing rapidly, consider appointing a staff member to work with you daily to review:
- Recommendations and/or mandates from state and federal governments.
- Guidance from College and specialist societies.
- Procedures for patient interaction: review the need to see face to face, your use of telemedicine and when/where to send patients for tests.
- Your stock of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Review and revision (when needed) of current infection control policies.
- Whether some employees’ work (eg, finance) can be done remotely.
- What needs to be communicated to patients.
- Capacity to assist more broadly within the healthcare system during the crisis.
2. Consider Postponing Nonessential Appointments
To minimise the traffic through your rooms, following recent announcements related to non-urgent elective surgery, consider contacting patients with cases that fall into Category 3 or non-urgent Category 2 to postpone appointments.
3. Overcommunicate to Patients
When anything changes within your practice, let your patients know. They will be more compliant with changes to appointments and procedures if they are kept up to date.
Text or email patients with links to relevant streams of information when major changes are made that will impact on their treatment.
The current situation is unprecedented so constant and clear communication with patients is crucial to maintain their trust and minimise incoming calls. Keep social media updated if you use it.
4. Take Advantage of Telemedicine
Make use of the specific telehealth item numbers whenever possible but be aware of the limitations around the numbers.
If in doubt, double check your use through the MBS link in the Useful Resources section below.
Telehealth is a great option for taking history so that the consulting time in rooms is for exam only.
5. Prepare to Potentially Shut Down
A temporary closure may be inevitable for some practices. If you feel it is not safe or practical to keep your rooms open you will need to inform patients quickly and clearly explain how you will continue to managing their care (continue from a different location, handover to colleague etc)
Patients need to know who they can call with concerns, where to seek care and when the practice expects to reopen.