A newly discovered strain of the novel virus has taken its toll across the globe. Medical practitioners and healthcare workers are doing everything possible to contain the infection. So far, it is hard to anticipate the result, however, a lot of progress has been mapped. Often mistaken as common flu, coronavirus has a set of distinguishable symptoms and affects patients with existing ailments or weaker immunity.
As of now, the only way to improve patient care is the medical facility’s responsiveness towards the threat. It is critical for the facilities to continue to provide care for all patients, no matter what COVID-19 stage they are in. It is high time for the facilities to step up their response actions to treat the surge in patients requiring care. Efforts need to be in the direction of:
- Reduce the transmission of disease.
- Direct people to the right level of care.
- Decrease the burden on the healthcare system.
- Protect healthcare personnel.
- Reduce morbidity and mortality.
To achieve these aforementioned objectives, we suggest the following guidelines for enhancing patient care.
- Determine a time for staff briefing: Due to the unknown nature of this disease, staff education and training are important every now and then. Information on how the disease spreads, clinical management of the patients, and measures to prevent further infections need to be discussed to the healthcare professionals in a specific time of the day.
- Explore alternate treatment options: The communicability of COVID-19 is alarming as it has managed to cross borders from the epicentre of its emergence. So a set of standard measures taken to reduce face-to-face patient visits is practical. These steps can include:
I. Instructing the patients to use alternative advise lines such as patient portals, mobile applications, helpline telephone numbers etc. if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.
II. Identifying staff to conduct telephonic and telehealth interactions with patients.
III. Determining ways to identify which patients can be managed by telephone and advised to stay at home, and which patients will need immediate hospitalization.
IV. Instructing patients to inform the medical facility via a call in case they have respiratory symptoms before they leave home so that the staff can be prepared to care for them on their arrival.
- Optimize supply of personal protection equipment (PPE): A regular inventory of the available equipment can help the healthcare centres to avoid facing shortage during an outbreak. At the same time, they need to identify flexible mechanisms to procure additional supplies when required.
- Prepare to safely triage and manage patients: Pandemic outbreaks affect a lot of people in a shorter time frame, so it is essential to have the healthcare facility prepared for such an emergency scenario. The following steps can be taken to stay alert and ready:
I.Visual alerts at hospital entrances and in strategic places offering instructions on personal hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette.
II.Make sure that supplies of essential items such as tissues, waste disposal, alcohol-based sanitizers, etc. are available.
III.Face masks are available for patients with respiratory infections.
IV.The spatial separation of patients with respiratory ailments is created.
It is a fact that when a new infectious disease such as COVID-19 is recognized, the modes of transmission are not well understood. Even though the epidemiological and microbiological studies are being conducted to help determine the modes of transmission and identify possible prevention and control measures, these standard guidelines can help medical facilities all across the globe to function effectively. In addition to this, iPC Health’s initiative to train healthcare professionals on this global pandemic through its free COVID-19 online programme can enhance clinical care to a large extent.