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Courtesy of the BDO Alliance, USA, LLP

How Healthcare Organizations Can Support Their Providers and Patients

1. Provide Staff Support

The effects of COVID-19 go far beyond healthcare. It has impacted every aspect of our daily lives, such as school and daycare facilities that provide support for working parents. Even as states begin to reopen, some of these facilities may remain closed or go out of business, especially as a second wave looms.

Healthcare leaders should consider not only how to support their staff now, but also how to support them in the event of a second wave. Leaders can provide daily meals, tap the local community to assist with childcare or provide on-campus respite areas. Leaders can also use data from the first wave of the pandemic to create a plan for managing a second wave. Leaders should also be transparent and openly communicative with staff so they are as informed as possible about what is happening and what may happen in the future.

2. Combine Virtual and Physical Visits

Telehealth services have become a vital part of the healthcare system under COVID-19. For non-urgent symptoms, patients can schedule telehealth visits to determine if an in-person visit is necessary or receive care instructions if they are able to remain at home. Even though states are reopening, telehealth is likely to continue to be a major factor in the healthcare system, as evidenced by bipartisan political support for permanent changes to telehealth policies.

To capitalize on the benefits of telehealth, healthcare leaders should combine telehealth visits with in-person visits. Telehealth can be used to treat and identify some mental illnesses and non-urgent conditions, and support groups can meet over video rather than in-person. Drive-through testing, as has been carried out for COVID-19, could possibly be expanded to other conditions to ensure minimal physical contact. In-person visits can be saved for those instances in which there is no other option. By combining telehealth, physical visits and drive-through testing, healthcare leaders can help restore patient confidence, making them feel safer and potentially more willing to come to the hospital or clinic when the need arises.

3. Prepare for a Second Wave

Having a concrete plan in place for a second wave can help inspire confidence in both healthcare workers and patients. Safety should be healthcare leaders’ number one concern. Making sure there’s access to PPE and stocking up in case of a second wave is crucial. They should also be prepared for sustained drug shortages. Putting in place proper protocols for treating and supporting immunocompromised patients during a potential second wave can also help keep at-risk patients safer.

Healthcare leaders should put together mental health treatment and support plans for patients who experience increasing or worsening mental illness symptoms in the case of further closures. Finally, seeking further funding and financial support during this time can help hospitals and other healthcare facilities weather a potential second wave of the pandemic.