The cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa breached the 200,000 mark on Monday (6 July) with the country surpassing 3,300 deaths. With confirmed cases on the rise, it seems more and more people are hesitant to go into the hospital or a doctor’s office for appointments, afraid they could contract COVID-19. However, experts recommend getting checked should you have symptoms. People are scared to leave their homes and even more scared to be confined in a space where all sick patients visit, but if they do not seek medical assistance they could be putting their health at risk.
For some people, it could lead to a condition more serious if your patients do not make their regular hospital visits.
It has been discovered that some patients are ending up in worse shape because of their adopted fear of walking into the ER or their local doctor’s office. Those fears can lead to bigger problems with even worse outcomes. As medical professionals, it is important during this time to continue to urge your patients to come in for their regular check-ups especially those with chronic health problems who need to stay on top of regular treatments or appointments. By implementing ample safety precautions against the COVID-19, it is important to disband the fear of the doctors room. Life may seem to be returning to an acceptable level or normal but the responsibility is on you as a medical professional to ensure your patients at your practice are extremely safe right now, more than ever. If possible, use contactless payment options. Discuss rescheduling possibilities with any patient with non-urgent procedures.
"We do recommend as much as possible avoiding closed settings and crowded situations. We recommend appropriate optimal ventilation of indoor environments and physical distancing, and when this is not possible in areas with community transmission of the virus, we recommend the use of face masks," stated the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As it has become the new normal, it is still advised to see your patients through appointments only. This is to ensure that you have the opportunity beforehand to ask your booked patients if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. This is to not only protect you, but protect those that your patient may be in contact with leading up to the appointment. On the day of the appointment, ensure that you and your patient are both wearing masks and always have extra masks available if a patient walks in without one. Screen your patients at the door and move potentially sick patients to afternoon appointments. Make visitors wait behind plexiglass shields or in their cars before going into exam rooms.
As much as it is important for your patients to keep attending their regular check-ups, it’s best to assist them through an over-the-phone consultation to limit exposure. Another term for this is ‘Telemedicine’. Telemedicine is emerging as an effective and sustainable solution for precaution, prevention and treatment to stem the spread of COVID-19. Telemedicine is bridging the gap between people, physicians and health systems, enabling everyone, especially symptomatic patients, to stay at home and communicate with physicians through virtual channels, helping to reduce the spread of the virus to mass populations and the medical staff on the frontlines.
Read more about our blog on telemedicine here.
We are still in the midst of a Pandemic but let us help patients manage the fear element and still get the care that they need.