As we begin returning back to work, we will all face a new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of business. While it has certainly been a challenge to keep up with the ever-changing regulations (that’s likely to continue for a little longer), exciting new opportunities have also been created, such as the expansion of telemedicine. There’s also the maze of government funding that needs to be navigated and an increased awareness of OSHA standards to implement.
Telehealth Expansion — Will it Continue?
The expansion of telehealth has created an opportunity for chiropractic offices to increase services. As we slowly get back to business as usual, some have asked if this expansion will continue. Telehealth has been growing over the past several years and many experts in the industry believe that this opening of the floodgate means that many payers will be more ‘open’ to the idea of the benefits of this service. While I believe that the door will likely close on some services, I think that many services will still be able to be provided via telehealth.
While it’s obvious that you can’t perform CMT, there are benefits to adding telehealth services permanently to your practice. Use this time to review your options, prepare policies and procedures, obtain HIPAA-approved technologies and properly set up ongoing telehealth services for your practice. Fortunately many organizations have provided helpful information, including webinars; and the 2021 ChiroCode DeskBook will include a new section on telehealth.
Government Funding Maze
There are a variety of funding options available and trying to understand all of them, as well as your best options, might seem a little daunting. There are federal options (e.g., CARES Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act) as well as state options. When it comes to navigating your options, don’t forget to contact your state professional organization. They can provide excellent guidance. Please keep in mind that if you ask 5 lawyers the same question, you are likely to get 5 different answers. Do your due diligence, ask questions, attend webinars, and be sure you document your steps in your Compliance Manual. If you don’t have a Compliance Manual, now's the time to get that important task taken care of (see Chapter 3 of the ChiroCode DeskBook).
OSHA tends to be the last thing that we think about when it comes to compliance, but it is necessary to understand these requirements. This pandemic has opened everyone's eyes as to why having an “Exposure Control Plan,” an OSHA requirement, is so important. We need to assume that any individual entering the door is potentially infected. The ChiroCode DeskBook has included an OSHA Checklist for the last several years. The 2021 Edition will expand this section. ChiroArmor is currently running a significant special on their “OSHA Policy Manual & Training Program.” CLICK HERE for more information.
Additional Considerations and Helpful Resources
Remember that there will be some additional procedures that will need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of your patients and your employees. These new policies and procedures will need to be included in your Compliance Manual;and employees should be trained and they should sign an acknowledgement of these changes. A legal firm has recommended posting patient notices on your front door as well as creating a “COVID-19/Coronavirus Patient Notice and Acknowledgement Form” which outlines what your practice will be doing to protect them (e.g., patient screenings).
The following are some links to other helpful resources:
- COVID-19 Medical Practice Reopening Checklist by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
- COVID-19: A Physician Practice Guide to Reopening by the American Medical Association
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the CDC
- Safety and Health Program Self-Evaluation Tool, by OSHA,is a checklist to see how your policies and procedures measure up to required elements
- CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- COVID-19 Preparedness Plan template and instructions. Your state or professional organization may have already created templates and procedures to make it easier to update your compliance plan. CLICK HERE to see one example by the state of Minnesota.