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For medical offices we are helping with their online presence, it was definitely a weird year. When it all exploded with COVID-19 in late February, none of us knew what to expect. The only thing that was clear was that this was a new virus, a virus to which the human body had never been exposed. This meant that things would be complicated.

The first thing was that all non-essential medical visits were suspended. Even though patients wanted to come to maintain their Botox results or for a chemical peel, they were not able to do so. That started to change from late April to May in most parts of the country, as practices slowly reopened and elective procedures were allowed again.

But throughout the summer it has always been a difficult time. Some thought the virus would subside during the hot summer months, but this has not proven to be true. Some predict an upsurge in new cases during the colder winter months. Others think « herd immunity » may be closer to 50 percent than the old estimate of 75 percent of the population. No one knows anything for sure.

The only thing that is certain in the future is uncertainty. The changes our customer practices have already made have been difficult, but somewhat enlightening at the same time. Interactions between patients and providers have definitely changed dramatically, and it will be some time, if ever, before they return to where they were before COVID-19.

New practice protocols

Each state and region may have different health regulations on everything from mandatory masks to the number of people who can be part of a group in public. To help create common ground, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has established recommendations for aesthetic practices to ensure the safety of their staff and patients. Here are the recommended protocols:

  • Universal masking procedures
  • Gloves mandatory for patients and staff
  • Mandatory temperature control and screening at the entrance
  • Patients must be asymptomatic to enter the office
  • The number of patients per day is limited
  • COVID-19 test should be available
  • Mandatory staff training
  • Limited office consultations in favor of moving to virtual consultations
  • Online patient portals and electronic communication for registration and paperwork
  • Elimination of waiting rooms
  • HEPA filters placed throughout the installation
  • Increase in decontamination protocols for anesthesia machines
  • Frequent cleanings for all severely affected areas
  • Contactless payment

Some practices have gone beyond these guidelines. There are many who ask each staff member to change into a scrub when they first enter for the day, to change into their formal attire when they return home. Others have installed UV lamps at the ceiling to sterilize rooms between patients. Others have standalone UV emitting equipment that is placed in the center of each room for additional sterilization and used when no one is in the room.

Protocols for patients

Practices are not the only ones to have had to adapt. So have patients. Here are the guidelines for patients recommended by the ASPS:

  • Consult the provider by telemedicine before your appointment
  • Complete all the necessary documents online
  • Wait offsite before entering the office after receiving a text or phone call
  • Screen for COVID-19 symptoms or fever before entering the office
  • Wear a mask and gloves when you arrive at your scheduled appointment
  • The number of patients is limited

After taking a closer look …

One potentially positive thing to take away from this virus is that many who have been stuck at home have found themselves taking a closer look at the signs of aging, the appearance of their teeth, the health of their skin and others. personal details. After all, the high-definition cameras on our computers and cellphones may be ideal for hosting those staff meetings via Zoom, but they don’t exactly hide the flaws in our appearance.

This means that many people who may not have considered receiving treatments such as IPL photofacials to get rid of age spots or porcelain veneers to present a perfect smile are now interested. This could lead to a growth in the patient base.

Of course, there is also compression to some extent, especially in older patients who fall into the high risk categories for COVID-19. For this group, it could take the arrival of a vaccine for any return to normal and their cosmetic treatments.

Another factor that bodes well for the future growth of the aesthetic world is savings. During this time of closed restaurants and cinemas, social distancing, etc., people haven’t spent any money. Of course, they bought some items online, but they couldn’t go to dinner and go to the movies. Most people canceled planned trips, whether out of necessity (Hawaii was not well open during the summer) or out of fear. All that money was saved and now it could be used to whiten those stained teeth, to lose crow’s feet or to gain a more shapely figure.

In this month’s second blog, we’ll cover five ways your practice can work to make your patients feel comfortable returning to your practice and receiving the procedures or treatments they want.

If you have any questions about what your practice should be doing during these weirdest times, feel free to contact your Advice Media representative or fill out a contact form.

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