Managing the Influx of Patients Post-COVID-19

eHealth Technologies Blog: Michelle Donowsky, RT (T), Executive Director of Clinical Optimization, eHealth Technologies

What does a post-pandemic appointment schedule look like?

As we look to the coming weeks in anticipation of a cautious and slow re-opening of the country, healthcare facilities are bracing for a surge of new patients. Many hospitals have postponed elective surgeries and rescheduled new patient consultations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some doctor’s offices have closed and officials have urged people to cancel appointments unless absolutely necessary. While telemedicine has helped address immediate concerns, many patients are simply waiting to schedule their appointments.

What does all of this mean? Once things settle down, hospitals all over the country will be trying to catch up. They will have a backlog of patients they need to schedule. Is your department ready to handle that type of volume surge?

Below are some key operational questions to consider for your departments:

  1. How much time does your staff have to compile all of the necessary records for these appointments? You don’t want to delay a patient’s appointment just because the records are not available. Does your team have the time to meticulously identify what records and images are needed so the clinical team has everything they need for a productive first appointment? Instead of spending hours making requests to multiple facilities and then following up every few days make sure those requests are fulfilled your team could spend just a few minutes per patient to submit a request to the eHealth team. We take it from there, acting as an extension of your team doing all of that legwork.
  2. How quickly can your team obtain the needed records? It often takes several weeks for records to arrive by fax or postal mail, many of which need to be scanned and imported to the EMR before a patient can be scheduled. Even electronic records require manual review by staff to ensure completeness—and often times, several requests need to be made before a comprehensive set of patient reports is obtained. The average time it takes for eHealth Technologies to obtain records and images is 3-5 days. Why should you make patients wait weeks for an appointment just because all of the information from their medical history can’t be available faster than that?
  3. Can an expedited referral to appointment or treatment time give you a competitive edge? If a patient has already been waiting several weeks through the COVID-19 crisis for an appointment, they will be most likely to take the earliest appointment slot they can get. Our partners experience a faster referral to treatment time by up to 80%. By offering the fastest appointment time you will be first on the patient’s list. They will be more likely to select your facility for treatment, helping you capture increased market share.

Our customers and their patients have always been our first priority. In these trying times, we understand that the implementation of our services may need to be accelerated in order to accommodate heavier volumes.  In response to that need, we have instituted a rapid two-week implementation process to fill the gaps for work that would otherwise need to be completed by new, untrained staff or by current staff already at maximum bandwidth.  We employ the expertise we have gained through working with large academic medical facilities. Our team can assist with developing optimal workflows and implementing best practice for record retrieval.  We are equipped and ready to be your partner in growth as we all move towards a new state of normal.