It would appear that challenging times are ahead of us. Most of us have already implemented sensible precautions in our clinics to minimise health risks to our patients, however we also have responsibilities to staff and ourselves to ensure the health of our businesses is also maintained during this period.
In my clinics we have attempted to get ahead of the narrative and allay fears. More important we are demonstrating that we are doing everything to keep our clinical environment as safe as possible. Including, displaying a statement on the entrance about not coming in if any patient is ill or showing signs of an illness. You can download a copy of this for your own clinic here.
Here you’ll find the communication I have sent to all my staff and a separate communication which we have sent to all patients on our database for whom we have permission to email. We are also giving paper copies to patients who attend the surgery and by email to each patient that makes an appointment.
I have been asked to share the action plan put in place in my own three clinics to help mitigate both business and health risk. No doubt each of us will have additional thoughts on the matter, which I would be delighted to hear about and share with our medical cosmetic dermatology community.
We have reached a point where the government’s strategy is to put in place measures to help flatten ‘the curve’. Hopefully this will reduce the healthcare burden at any one time until we have developed sufficient herd immunity. We can be part of the problem or part of the solution based on our behaviour and communications with our patients. They will be anxious about attending events, restaurants and even medical surgeries. There are measures we can take to show how we control risks in our own environments and give them some degree of comfort so coming to visit us need not be threatening. The following are some business strategies and messaging I have shared with my staff and patients…
- Think smart… patients will take the cue form you about how safe it is to visit your premises. Get ahead of the narrative and communicate with your patients early.
- Think of ways to do business remotely. Skincare is a good example. Clever Clinic is a free App produced by the Healthxchange. It can be used as a stand-alone clinical skincare tool and medical record note recording available on your iPad wherever you are.
- Engage your staff if not busy to look at reaching out by text/ email or phone to reassure patients and perhaps stimulate conversations about future bookings or indeed skincare.
- See the e-Pharmacy direct to patient service as a way of keeping sales and revenues in-house without having to pay for inventory or lose business elsewhere.
- Be pro-active and have a plan now to keep your staff busy when surgery visits decline. Examples of this may be FaceTime consultations enabling future appointments for treatment or a Skincare cons keeping up valuable sales. Healthxchange will send products directly to the patient for you.
- Try to have a strong balance sheet but if you do run into trouble, speak to your business partners and suppliers to see how we can support each other.
- Have your products delivered rather than collecting them wherever possible. Healthxchange has taken the step to reduce the risk for us all by diverting collections to a delivery service.
- “Remote prescribing is against the law”…this is untrue. Remote prescribing is an important function in healthcare and in this environment is a public health benefit minimising the number of contacts. It is true that ‘remote prescribing’ was restricted for Botox® and Dermal Fillers by the three main regulators after abuses were highlighted in a BBC documentary where the prescriber was not the person injecting. This was deemed to put patients at risk. There is no logic that this extends to a prescription which is commenced during a consultation on FaceTime and completed by the prescriber being the person ultimately injecting the patient face-to-face.
- Prescribing all other medicines remotely follows the same guidelines as exist in mainstream medical practice, including that for topical skincare.
- The Healthxchange Pharmacy, in your terms and conditions, has previously declined to dispense Botox® or dermal fillers on a prescription which has not been the result of a direct face-to-face consultation. It is in the public interest that we have amended this so the only obligation is for the clinician to ultimately be involved in a face-to-face consultation before the medicine prescribed is administered which may include an initial tele-medicine consultation. This may save an unnecessary patient visit to the surgery and perhaps a pharmacy visit thus reducing risk. I have written to the regulators and explained the reasoning behind the change on the basis of urgent health benefit, which I believe reflects the intention of their original advice.
- We have created a safe environment as best we can.
- We will contact you and cancel if we are concerned your health is at risk.
- Your contact with other patients will be kept to a minimum.
- We have a direct-to-home delivery service for creams, etc. just call the surgery and we will complete the financial process and save you the journey and risk.
- We will do online consultations and, in the case of skincare, will be able to follow through with a prescription and products.
- If you are nervous about attending for your usual treatments, contact us and use this time to have that skincare consult you always wanted using FaceTime or WhatsApp. We can plan for the future booking when the situation settles.
- Encourage all the measures suggested by the Government and health department but do not raise anxieties by sharing your personal fears and anxieties.
- On the phone, thank patients for booking and explain the measures we are taking to provide a safe space for them every time you speak to them!
- Explain calmly how we clean surfaces regularly during the day with Thoclor/Clinisept; powerful virucidals.
- Explain that we will provide a virucidal spray for use on arrival.
- Explain how we have elongated appointment times and have been more diligent keeping to time so no two patients will have to sit next to each other.
- Remove all magazines and brochures to limit spread and explain to patients why you have taken this measure.
- Offer Thoclor or Clinisept as take home products if they wish, becoming a health resource for our patient community.
- Ensure our notice re infected persons not entering the premises is pleasant in its composition and prominently positioned
- If you are unwell do not come in to work. If you want to cough, use a paper tissue and dispose of it, and be seen to wash your hands thoroughly and use Thoclor/Clinisept after.
- All clinical staff adhere to infection control protocols.
- Thank patients for coming and reiterate that we can be contacted by phone, especially for creams and other products which can be delivered to their home using the e-Pharmacy delivery service.
Most of all… keep safe, keep well and keep busy.
Dr John Curran
Chairman, Healthxchange Group