COVID 19 - Post Lockdown Suggestions for Restarting Your Practice
Once the main threat of Coronavirus has passed it will be time to perform a cold restart of your practices' activity. Below therefore are numerous suggestions for getting back onto the road of recovery. The first action you must take is upgrading your practice to the latest version of the Bridge-IT software (Version 4.3.3) which has many new features that will help with the getting your practice up and running as efficiently as possible. Indeed some of the features below will only work after upgrading.
Because of social distancing it will be necessary to minimise overlap when seeing patients, therefore they will be required to spend as little time as possible in the waiting room. To accommodate this we have introduced a new online signing and form filling portal which your patients can access from the comfort of their own home on their own computer or mobile device. The portal allows the patient to fill in and sign their latest medical history, enter consent/contact details, and sign treatment plans, PR forms and any letter template etc before they arrive at the surgery. This should drastically cut the overall time the patient needs to sit in your waiting room. Please contact us to set this up for your practice.
Next we arrive at getting patients back to your practice. We therefore urge you to prioritise the following key groups of patients:
- Existing patients requiring restorative work
- New patients
- Existing patients requiring check-ups
During the lockdown it's quite likely that they'll be a back log of patients requiring restorative treatment. Obviously this needs to be managed so your practice is able to effectively meet that demand. If nearby practices are less able to cope with the surge, you may be able to pick up new patients in search of treatment.
Existing Patients Requiring Restorative Work
For NHS practices you can easily get a list of patients that were in the middle of treatment when the lock down occurred by going to "NHS" from the menu at the top of the screen and selecting the "Claim Analysis" tab. This will list all patients that have a claim that is currently incomplete i.e. it has been started but not completed.
For any practice, if you want to produce a list of patients with outstanding courses treatment simply go to the "Reports" area, select the "Patients" tab and run the "Outstanding Courses of Treatments" report. When the filter dialogue appears we suggest you set the "Planned Date" to a reasonable back dated date (otherwise it may show patients who have outstanding treatments from years ago which is pointless), and also set the "Number of Future Appointments" to zero as you don't want to list patients who are already booked in.
This will list all outstanding treatments enabling you to focus on those patients in most urgent need.
Contacting Cancelled Patients
In the likely event that you cancelled all of the appointments throughout the lock down period, it will be necessary to contact these patients and rebook them into the practice. This next section shows how to send a message to all patients that were cancelled over the lock down.
- Select “Documents” on the left hand side of the screen and then choose “Create Appointments Cancellations”.
- In the top right of that dialogue you’ll see the option to “Contact Patients Who Have Cancelled Their Appointments in the Past”.
- Change the “Start Date” and “End Date” to match the period you want to cover for when those appointments were cancelled. This will update the list of patients below.
- You can select “E-Mail Options” or “SMS Options” to configure a message to those patients asking them to contact the practice and re-arrange their appointment or you can simply press the “Print Grid” button so you have a list of patients for whom you need to re-arrange appointments for in the future.
- Once you have set up either a letter, e-mail or SMS message correctly ensure that all the patients under the first tab are ticked and press the "Create Correspondence" button. It is always best to test a single message first before sending hundreds in case of a textual error.
Recalling Patients for Check-Ups
Finally you should contact patients who have missed their check-ups during the lock down, but it’s important that you do not schedule all of these at once and block the diary. When patients call to book a routine check-up, use the "Find Available Space" functionality to fill gaps that cannot be taken up with restorative cases. To mass recall your patients:
- Select "Documents" on the left hand side of the screen and then choose "Create Recalls".
- Set the "Start Date" to the begnning of the lock down period and the "End Date" to todays date. This will give you a list of patients that are due a recall and that are not currently booked into the diary.
- Once again set up a suitable e-mail, text message or letter you want to use for the recall and once you are satisfied with the wording press the "Create Recalls" button. Again it always best to test what you are sending with a single person first before sending hundreds of them.