So you’re shut down or slowed down because of the coronavirus. We are all a bit worried, fearful and even angry about what has happened. In dark times like these, I find it helps to stay busy, and know that very soon, to rip-off the classic line from Annie – “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. This pandemic WILL end in the near future, and the end is likely to be just as rapid as the onset.
So what to do while you are waiting? Here’s Part 2 of my list of 10 things every ASC can do to stay busy and come out the other side of this pandemic stronger and more prepared than ever:
1. Training & Education
This is the perfect time to invest in your staff by offering them online training that they can complete from home. ASCA has a wonderful training and education series that you can purchase for your staff. Not only is it affordable, it is also very comprehensive. It is a comprehensive curriculum with a variety of different topics: everything from fire safety to pain management for ASCs. I encourage you to check it out at www.ascassociation.org/educationevents/trainingseries
2. Pre-Op Evaluations
You may be closed down or slowed down now, but in a few short weeks, all of that postponed surgical volume is going to come roaring back, plus all of the patients who delayed going to see a surgeon because of Covid 19 will be flooding the surgical offices when the coast is clear, plus cases that were already scheduled weeks in advance. Are you really ready to handle that onslaught? So here’s a thought: get all of those pre-ops done now. It helps if you have an online program like One Medical Passport, but even if you’re still on paper, your staff can make calls from home and verify or collect information from patients. Yes – you will need to update/check the information prior to or on the day of surgery, but that is much faster than trying to start from scratch a few days before the day of surgery.
Everybody is worried about decreased cashflow right now. The patients who have outstanding balances are most likely all sheltering in place at home. Give them a call. Don’t just send them a letter - pick up the phone! Be sensitive, but also keep your eye on the goal of collecting money. Be flexible with payment plans, and definitely make sure that you have invested in technology that allows you to accept and process credit card payments remotely.
4. Start a total joint program
Have your orthopedic doctors been talking about wanting to do total joints and spine cases at your center, but no one has ever had the time to put a program in place? Now is the perfect time. Reach out to your colleagues at other ASCs who are already successfully doing these cases and ask for help setting up protocols and documentation. Don’t know anyone to call? Post a question looking for guidance on the daily ASCA blog or ask your customer success manager to connect you to another ASC 1MP customer in your state. I guarantee that you will get a ton of great responses from others who have already set up a program and are more than willing to help.
Although you can’t do inventory from home, as long as your state does not forbid you from leaving your home, I think that inventory can be done safely and effectively. Practice good hand hygiene and social distancing. Wear masks, and then just get counting. Count everything: (1) disposables (2)implants (3) surgical instruments (4) major equipment like anesthesia machines, surgical cautery machines, microscopes, monitors, etc. Anything that is permanent equipment should the model # and serial number recorded in a spreadsheet that is backed up in the cloud.
So that’s it! 10 simple things that you and your staff can do today to be better prepared for when you get back to work full-time!
Stay safe and wash your hands (and face) !
About the Author: Stephen Punzak, MD is a practicing Anesthesiologist as well as the CEO of One Medical Passport. He founded One Medical Passport because he has always had a vision of how healthcare could run more efficiently using technology. He frequently writes on medical topics, workflow efficient measures and ASC industry trends.