Will the Imaging landscape ever look the same? Will volumes ever rebound and if so, how long will it take? Will patients be able to get their exams that have been delayed for months? Questions we desperately need answers to in the age of COVID, but the answers may not be readily apparent.
There isn’t a magic bullet to return everything to pre-COVID normalcy. A different normal now exists and will continue to morph over time. There isn’t a quick fix, it’s a slow-moving evolving process. Adapting thoughtfully and deliberately to this multi-faceted ever-changing environment is the key to a successful transition to recovery.
Imaging crisis recovery has many faces: staff’s health and wellbeing, patient and staff safety, patient communication, ordering provider collaboration, scheduling of backlog exams and altered workflows to name a few. There are a few that need particular focus and consideration.
There is no doubt the staff’s mental health has been permanently affected while providing direct patient care during this crisis. Will staff’s health and wellbeing ever be the same? Keeping staff’s health and wellbeing at top of mind is extremely important in the imaging recovery process.
Changes in workflows have occurred to account for the additional necessary precautions and most likely will become permanent. For example, increased time in between patients has been added to allow for enhanced infection control procedures and waiting areas have been reconfigured to accommodate social distancing. These types of changes will continue to remain in effect for at least the time being.
For those patients lucky enough to finally get their outpatient procedures performed, these changes have left them feeling even more isolated and scared. To ensure their safety, many must wait in their cars until they are called in and then have their temperature checked upon entering the facility. They must come alone and cannot be accompanied by family or a care giver. Other patients exams continue to be delayed caused in part by the additional time scheduled in between exams. Even more unfortunate are those people who have lost their health insurance during these times and now cannot have their imaging exams completed.
Significant progress has already been made to adapt Imaging services to accommodate the necessary changes. As part of the ongoing process, take a step back and look at all the faces of Imaging recovery. Take the lessons learned thus far to become prepared in anticipation of a new pandemic. Be the best face of Imaging by continuing to provide quality care safely and effectively for your patients.