May 2020

ASCRS NEWS

Patient outreach will be key to reducing anxiety


“It is important to balance business needs with an understanding of the psychological toll that quarantine puts on our patients. Now more than ever, it is important to consider the patient’s perspective in how we conduct our work.”

Contributed by ASCRS leadership

Constant bombardment of coronavirus news and ensuing fear has resulted in heightened anxiety, with immediate effects on the human psyche. At least for the foreseeable future, COVID-19 has reshaped the way people think about their health and how care is delivered.
As with other industries, some ophthalmologists have begun the process of reopening their practices to get back to work and begin generating much-needed revenue. However, economists warn that overall consumer confidence will continue to lag, not only because of the financial impact of the pandemic, but also due to inherent fear of virus exposure that some consumers may continue to experience.
Several recent surveys among medical professionals have pointed to the common challenge of how to alleviate patient fear of returning to waiting rooms in close proximity to other patients. This hurdle is likely to be exacerbated among elderly patients, the primary demographic of ophthalmic practices.
It is important to balance business needs with an understanding of the psychological toll that quarantine puts on our patients. Now more than ever, it is important to consider the patient’s perspective in how we conduct our work.
Creating a safe environment for patients and staff will be of paramount importance in the post-COVID-19 world. Proactive communication to patients will be a key to reducing patients’ anxiety associated with a return to the ophthalmologist’s office.
A key to reducing the anxiety is to inform patients how the practice will keep the office setting as clean and decontaminated as reasonably possible. Communicating these steps to patients could take place through a series of emails prior to the office visit and a bulleted text message the day of the visit.

Points of emphasis:

• Implement a check-in process where patients could check in through text messaging from their cars.
• Restructure waiting rooms and patient holding areas with chairs blocked to ensure separation of 6 feet between patients.
• Allow only one family member or friend to accompany the patient.
• Inform patients that they should plan to wear N95 masks or available personal protection masks (encourage patients to bring their own).
• Equip staff with N95 masks and gloves for each patient interaction.
• Outfit diagnostic equipment with breath shields and send photos of this setup to help patients understand this safety measure.
• Wipe down and disinfect equipment after each exam with CDC-recommended disinfectants.
• Inform patients that interaction at the slit lamp or at other diagnostic stages should be minimized to reduce possible exposure time.
• Store diagnostic eye drops required for ophthalmic examination and multidose eye drop containers in cabinets or other closed spaces away from places that could become contaminated during a patient encounter.
• Move patient counseling to a telemedicine- based approach.

ASCRS is creating an informational web portal, “Turning the Lights Back On,” that will cover considerations for practices as they open up after COVID-19 social distancing/quarantines. This portal is supported by Alcon in partnership with ASCRS.

Contact

Holland: eholland@holprovision.com

Patient outreach will be key to reducing anxiety Patient outreach will be key to reducing anxiety
Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
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2020-05-04T12:05:47Z
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