With the COVID-19 crisis, it is difficult to foretell what will unfold in the coming weeks. Many businesses have already cut down on their working hours, canceled shipments and asked their employees to work from home if possible.
Although technology has helped solve some of the problems caused due to the outbreak, not everyone has the luxury of staying and working from home. The healthcare industry in particular is at the front lines with healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and lab assistants risking their lives on a daily basis to provide care and treatment.
To honor their service, brands like Costco (Please add no follow tag to this link) have opened up priority lines for healthcare workers and first responders.
A number of hospital and healthcare practices have been advised to limit their appointments to emergency visits only. The COVID-19 outbreak has also led to an increased demand for medical answering services to manage the surge of calls, appointments, emergency services and enquiries regarding health issues.
The following article articulates how healthcare providers can prepare themselves to deliver extraordinary patient care amidst the current pandemic panic.
What can Hospitals do to Prepare for an Influx of COVID-19 Patients?
As doctors in hospitals in coronavirus epicenters are reporting deaths, shortage of equipment and increasing number of COVID-19 patients, hospitals in relatively less-affected zones need to think on their feet and make quick arrangements to care for the patients and douse public panic through information helplines, say medical preparedness experts.
Many experts also agree that the COVID-19 crisis is turning out into one of the largest public health crises that any of them has ever faced in their entire careers. Hence, everyone needs to be as efficient as possible and make progress fast.
Considering the current situation of the pandemic, there are four major priorities that every hospital needs to focus on:
- Collaborating with hospitals in a certain region and working together as a team
- Limiting the spread of the virus within and beyond the hospital
- Optimizing the hospital workforce
- Assigning limited resources in a rational, ethical, and organized way
- Ensure social distancing where possible by addressing patient queries remotely
- Setting up helplines to address queries and put unfounded claims and myths to rest
Moreover, hospitals also need to have a team of emergency managers who are dedicated to working towards infection prevention and pandemic preparedness.
To manage the current crisis at hand, hospitals can mobilize a part of their total bed capacity for COVID-19 patients and then collaborate with other hospitals in the region to increase the overall regional bed capacity.
Everyone working within the hospital or entering the premises need to wear face masks. The hospital staff can be trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and some of the staff can be assigned to dedicated units for the treatment of sick staff and test results.
To maintain the workforce of the hospital, experts suggest that individuals can volunteer to provide medical daycare for ill family members. Besides, medical professionals with previous clinical experience, such as dentists, vets, and non-clinical hospital personnel can participate in augmenting the staff.
Hospitals also need to lay down clear guidelines for allowing the use of resource-intensive services like mechanical ventilation. Alternative sites, such as recovery units or catheterization labs may also be considered to deliver additional intensive care.
Mobilizing Health Workers and Easing their Work
Healthcare professionals and workers involved in the care of COVID-19 patients are at a higher risk of contracting the infection. Hence, care must also be taken to ensure their well-being.
Hospitals must connect with other health systems and keep a close report on the resources that are being used and the ones that are still available. Experts recommend working closely with other facilities in the region, such as state resources, environmental and logistics services as well as supply chains. In a potentially chaotic time, this could be very important to fight the illness.
Maximizing the Utilization of Hospital Resources
Any elective procedures can be postponed for a later time. This will enable the better utilization of available resources where it is more required. Also, staying at the hospital for things that are not urgent is also not recommended. Hospitals have to encourage people to call first before seeking healthcare or ask them to visit a face mask to the visit.
In order to prevent unnecessary footfalls, hospitals can set up various medical answering services dedicated to critical, COVID-related and non-critical issues. When a call is received, it is accordingly assigned to the respective section. This frees up time for experienced nurses and receptionists in a healthcare practice to handle cases that require instant medical attention.
Outsourcing Medical Answering Services Amidst the Current Crisis
In the wake of the current COVID19 pandemic, it is not uncommon to hear conversations like this on a daily basis:
People who haven’t even stepped out of their houses in quite a while exclaiming, “I think I have a cold, should i get tested?”
” I took this test on Whatsapp, looks like i am 98% likely to have contracted the virus!”.
Unfounded panic like the above scenarios only exert unnecessary pressure on healthcare providers who are already operating at peak efficiency to help COVID-positive patients who actually require their care and assistance.
Having a dedicated helpline to help address patient queries and concerns would greatly help reduce footfalls and reduce panic among communities. Outsourcing these duties to a medical answering services provider can greatly increase efficiency of a healthcare practice.
For the effective functioning of healthcare institutions during this COVID-19 chaos, several factors need to be prioritized right from providing quality customer service to ensuring on-time appointments to addressing queries.
Outsourcing these tasks to medical answering services can be extremely helpful to achieve positive patient experiences as well as seamless practice administration.
Outsourcing Medical Answering Services has a Number of Advantages:
- 24/7 availability of live and HIPAA compliant telephone coverage
- Excellent and timely customer service with the help of experienced and bilingual staff
- Versatile and flexible call management packages with customized operator responses for each medical office
- Secure communication between the operators and the physicians
- Report delivery and analytics to better streamline operations and detect patterns
Choosing an Answering Service that Cares for your Patients
In these trying times, the need for medicine and healthcare service has only increased. Hence, the demand for exceptional customer care can be the make or break factor.
It could be quite frustrating when patients have to reach an automated voicemail or service during an emergency like the current pandemic situation. The simple solution to that is to have a live-voice medical answering service so that patients and their families do not have to rely on the canned and robotic voice of a computer for advice. Having a professional and empathetic operator on the other end of the phone can help calm down callers and improve the overall customer experience. Nothing could be more personal and enhance patient care than speaking to a real person.
Therefore, healthcare providers need to choose a medical call center service that provides mindful, patient services that involve human intervention. The benefits of choosing a good medical answering service are summarized as follows.
- 24/7 service availability: Although patients are more likely to call during regular business hours, it is vital to provide round-the-clock services to ensure adequate patient care management. This also offers a sense of relief to the patients and their families as they know that they can reach you with just a phone call.
- Emergency care management: The way medical institutions handle emergency care defines their quality of service. Medical call center agents understand that being compassionate and confident while screening emergency calls is important. Agents can also establish direct hotlines for physician answering services that patients can use in cases of extreme emergencies.
- Professional Representation: Professional image matters when running a healthcare practice. Having a professional patient-answering team ensures clients are more likely to trust the practice and its ability to offer them excellent quality care.
- Security and compliance: Medical answering service providers employ a series of external and internal quality control checks to ensure the services offered are secure and follow all the necessary compliance measures.
- Reduced Costs: Outsourcing doctor’s answering services can greatly help in reducing costs. Healthcare business owners only need to pay for the operator time. They don’t have to invest in expensive technology or equipment and can avoid overheads associated with hiring a dedicated in-house team. As a result of these savings, more funds will free up for patient care necessities.
While looking out for a medical answering service, healthcare owners should not hesitate to ask for the agency’s portfolio and take a tour of their setup. Switching between different medical answering services especially at a critical time can greatly impact the reputation of the healthcare practice. Careful research and transparent talks can help avoid such bottlenecks.
Importance of Medical Answering Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has thrown everyday-life as we know it, into chaos. In this period of crisis, patients will obviously have a heightened sense of distress, panic and concern about their health and well-being. With an increasing number of patients making a beeline for hospitals and constantly trying to reach hospital helplines, medical answering service providers must be well prepared to meet the unanticipated influx of calls that come up. Here’s what a medical answering service can do to help during the current COVID-19 pandemic or during any other crisis or disasters.
- Handle patients with empathy and care: Real people, as opposed to medical office virtual receptionists have the ability to handle patients with empathy and answer their questions wisely instead of automated machines or electronic solutions that churn out templatized responses. Healthcare requires the human touch, be it during a crisis or otherwise.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: Some medical phone answering service providers shoehorn their customers into a restrictive plan, where the calls will be received only during set time periods, e.g. day time, evening or weekends. However, the scenario changes during a disaster or pandemic where the time window may stretch. Reputed providers understand the need for their presence and will be willing to extend shifts and rearrange schedules to handle the additional influx of queries and concerns.
We’ll Take Care, while you give Care
ExpertCallers’ solutions enable healthcare business owners to have control over the type of calls received after hours, the way patient-interaction happens over phone, and which doctor or staff gets access to which messages.
With years of medical answering service experience, ExpertCallers offers you an incredible tool that can help you to transform medical office operations and create better relationships with patients. Our live answering service lets you support your patients 24/7 as well as share essential information across your whole team of caregivers during these trying times.