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Health Care Businesses and COVID-19

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hysteria. This is the craziest period of time anyone of us has faced. Time to trust the leaders, trust yourselves, go through the process of reform, innovation, faith, relentlessness. Have we done enough, are we doing enough? Who knows...

What I am certain of, is that we can only control what we can control. We can control our own actions, we can control our approach and we can control our preparation within our own businesses.

As health care professionals, we have a duty of care to our clients in a variety of ways. Firstly, we have a duty of care not to inflict harm. This is one of the first things that we learn as university. Try not to hurt them! Following this, we have a duty of care to impart of extensive knowledge base to help clients recover. These two, at the moment are coming into conflict for many business owners.

Lock down your clinic, batten the hatches and your clients won’t get sick. You are certain to achieve the do no harm part of the equation. But on the flip side, we are ignoring our duty of care by not helping. This is especially true in impaired populations that desperately need our help.

We know the official recommendations, you have likely written or received them from your business, from every mailing list you’re on and on the news, or podcast. Just to recap, these currently are;

  • Limit large group meetings of more than 5 or so people
  • 1 Person per 4sqm
  • Limit personal body contact
  • Wash hands according to WHO guidelines- ie long time, thoroughly, using good soap…
  • Use gloves where able when treating clients
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Wear a face mask
  • Triage and reschedule your clients of high-risk status- travel history, symptoms of cold or flu, exposure to COVID-19 infected people

Health Care Businesses and COVID-19

But what about a proactive approach to your business? We are a service industry and often margins are small, and a shut down or at best a pullback in revenue can be very costly. How do you prepare for the unknown?

Here are some ideas, grouped by area of concern;

Stay Informed

Stay informed, and with reputable sources.

  • Go to multiple sources, rather than just one.
  • If something sounds overly alarmist, it just might be.
  • If something sounds too optimistic, it just might be.
  • Follow WHO news
  • Look to credentials, over and above popularity of the person disclosing information

Health and Safety of Staff

Are you on the front foot with health for your staff?

  • Can they work from home and do their consults by telehealth?
  • Do they test their temperatures daily, and make sure they don’t come into work when they may have an infection?
  • Do they wash their hands prior and after each consultation?
  • Do you test your patients’ temperature prior to treatment? Do they get access to hand sanitizer?

Are you writing the name single use pens for signing, or alternatively, get rid of pens and signing all together.

Health and Safety of Patients

Your patients need protecting too!

  • Are you triaging them prior to treatments for risk?
  • Do you religiously rub down your equipment with alcohol and wipes?
  • Have you removed the reading material from your waiting room?
  • Are you limiting skin to skin contact where possible and perhaps opting for alternate treatment options

Marketing

Go on the offence. Defence will save you some money, but you need to be proactive

  • celebrate being open and having telehealth as an option
  • Update your website to reflect this asap!
  • Go on social media and engage with your community!
  • Do dark posting advertising on facebook, more people are at home to receive the message

Training

  • Train, train, train your staff!
  • Come up with cancellation scripts asap. How do you deal with cancellations- the best bet is to use the clinician
  • Train telehealth really well! It can be done really poorly, don't do that!
  • Make telehealth a proper session, not just an observation

Leadership

  • Be a leader, be strong, be confident
  • Lead by example and get your hands dirty
  • Engage with your staff daily, let them express their concerns, over and above you spraying them with yours.

Health Industry Fear

How do we calm fears? It is super important to try our best to get the message out that we are responsible and taking this very seriously. We have no idea how long this is going to eb around.

  • Current patients can be contacted by email to let them know what strategies you are taking. Text or email notifications are perfect.
  • Put up a sign on the outside of your clinic indicating the steps you are taking to manage the contagion in your practice.
  • Use proactive advertising in your area on Social Media to let people who currently are not engaged in treatment that they don’t need to fear if they want to come in
  • When receptionists are taking calls and booking clients, get them to practice a great script letting patients know that they are in a clean environment
  • Keep calm and don’t buy f*&%ing toilet paper J

Financial Considerations

How is your business going to fair if 20%, 30%, 40% of work was going to dry up?

  • Check what your liabilities on wages would be if everyone had to go home sick for a month. What is the bare minimum you are up for? Add to this a month of expenses
  • What does the financial impact look like when you reduce your inflows by 20, 30, 40%?
  • How much surplus cash do you have?
  • Is there a shortfall? If there is, look for other potential funding options.

This will give you a great idea of the current fiscal position you are in. What is your plan if financially you are tight?

Options left to you would be redundancies, negotiating with staff to reduce their hours, limiting non-essential spending, or even negotiating with your landlord on a rent amnesty for a month or two.

Summary

All in all, it is about innovating, staying in touch with the latest news, keeping clean and getting the word out that the practices that you are performing are limiting the risk to your staff and clients.

Good luck to us all through this strange and forever changing process.

Go away COVID-19

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