Are you tired of hearing people talk about “the new normal”? So are physicians and patients in different hospitals. COVID-19 has brought the new normal as it has ushered in many changes in hospitals. Physicians, patients, and the general public are embracing these changes to combat the spread of this disease. But what are some of these changes? Below is a discussion on this.
Some Hospitals and Clinics Have Closed
Many hospitals have been operating for a long time because of their strong financial footing. Now, COVID-19 has pressurized them, making some to close. But how has this happened?
COVID-19 has brought about many restrictions in outpatient visits and elective procedures. As a result, hospital revenues have dropped, and hospital operating costs have risen. Statistically, this disease has been costing US hospitals more than 50 billion dollars monthly since March 2020. By August 2020, more than 18 US hospitals had closed because of the pandemic. Small clinics have not been left out. They have also been threatened. This pandemic has financially threatened more than 60,000 small private practices in the US. Around 16,000 of these private practices have closed.
Telemedicine Has Been Accelerated
Encouraging people to use telemedicine has always been challenging because many people prefer to physically meet with healthcare providers. When corona emerged, healthcare providers and patients started embracing it. But what is telemedicine in the first place?
Telemedicine involves the delivery of services by healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies. For instance, patients can use smartphones to video call their primary care providers and show them the sick body parts with telemedicine. Hence, the sick person does not have to go to a hospital to get medical attention.
Now that telemedicine helps people get medical attention without necessarily going to hospitals, many people started embracing it during this COVID-19 pandemic. Anyway, no one would wish to go to a hospital and be exposed to COVID-19 when they can avoid such by video calling their doctors. Also, no physician would want to get into a COVID-19 patient’s ward when they can communicate through video calls.
As a result of this, many hospitals have adopted and implemented high-tech telemedicine systems. Patients have also adopted the use of remote monitoring tools to monitor and manage their health conditions. The federal government has not been left behind, and it has relaxed the rules governing the supply of telemedicine tools.
There are New clinical Protocols
Many hospitals have set new clinical protocols to combat the spread of COVID-19. For instance, before you get into a hospital, your body temperature has to be checked. If your temperature is above the normal body temperature range, COVID-19 screening has to be done.
You also have to wash your hands before getting into a hospital. This protocol was set to ensure that high standards of hygiene are observed. To ensure that people wash their hands before getting into hospitals, many hospitals have built handwashing areas in front of their main entrances.
Other hospitals have focused on clinical protocols that change how health care providers serve people. For instance, in some hospitals, a small number of health care providers are allowed to enter operation rooms. In others, health care providers have been trained to work in more than one department.
The Medical Supply Chain Has Changed
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers suffered due to the shortage of ventilators, pharmaceuticals, and personal protective equipment. The shortage of these important materials and equipment is what led to change in the medical supply chain.
For instance, some hospitals started getting medical supplies from local manufacturers when their regular vendors could not meet their demand. They vetted for the best suppliers and started getting medical devices from them. Although some of these manufacturers do not use the best medical device design and development procedures, they develop good medical devices. This step has not stopped hospitals from outsourcing their medical devices. Hence, many medical device design and development are having to outsource in order to maintain a competitive edge.
COVID-19 has changed the healthcare system greatly. For instance, it has changed the medical supply chain, brought about new clinical protocols, and accelerated telemedicine. The pandemic has also threatened many clinics and hospitals’ financial systems and made some of them close.