R-E-O-P-E-N—It's How You Spell Success

Posted By Mike Meyer, Friday, June 5, 2020

nurse with ppe

By Terri Ross, Terri Ross Consulting

In some states, medical aesthetic practices and medical spas are still closed, yet in others, they are beginning to re-open under new circumstances.

No matter which category you fall in, I hope that you have used this downtime wisely to evaluate the health of your practice, review your finances and make informed decisions. Working "on" your business—not just "in" your business—is a vital part of your success, but oftentimes that doesn't happen. Sadly, due to COVID-19, we have all been affected in many ways and forced to make significant changes. Now more than ever before, it is important to perform a practice assessment, define and understand what key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to measure, and do a SWOT analysis. Taking the time to do these things will help you identify what is working and what isn't, so you can make the necessary changes to achieve positive outcomes.

As you get ready to open your doors and get back to business doing what you love, I have put together a R-E-O-P-E-N checklist for you.

Responsibility. It is your responsibility to establish guidelines and protocols, as well as adhere to overall compliance to ensure the health and safety of your staff, patients and vendors. That means screening everyone upon entering your facility. Both you and your team must share in the responsibility to ask the right questions before scheduling an appointment or allowing anyone to enter in order to identify disease factors, including:

  • Fever (either current or within the past 24 hours), cough, respiratory problems, shortness of breath, etc.;
  • Exposure to COVID-19 or any contagious condition within the incubation period that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites;
  • Diarrhea or vomiting;
  • Any contagious condition (flu, pink eye, strep, etc.);
  • Recent domestic or international travel on a plane or cruise ship to an area with an outbreak without completing an isolation and quarantine period; and
  • Hospitalization within past 14 days.

The motto "We are in this together" holds true for your practice, and everyone on the team must be focused on solutions.

Employees. When employees get ready to return to work, there are some factors to consider:

  • Which employees are essential and which can continue their responsibilities remotely from home?
  • Evaluate (based on your numbers) who will return full-time or part-time, or who may not be returning to work at all.
  • Will you require COVID-19 testing before employees return to work, or require temperature screenings each day? Determine guidelines for returning to work if they are experiencing symptoms or happen to fall ill.
  • Establish your protocols for sanitation requirements and make sure you are providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff, including masks, sanitizer, gloves, etc.
  • Make sure all workspaces have at least six feet of distance from other staff members or patients, and determine how many people are allowed in a room at any given time.
  • What are the clothing requirements? Can they wear normal work clothes inside, or are they required to change into scrubs that have been sanitized upon arrival?
  • What are your new hours going to be? How many appointments will you be taking per day?
  • Will your hours be limited or expanded to accommodate fewer patients per hour? Will you stagger your staff to minimize exposure?

Office. A thorough, deep sanitizing cleaning should be performed before re-opening. Once opened, rooms should be thoroughly cleaned between patients, and your staff should clean and sanitize all surfaces routinely throughout the day following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and CDC guidelines.

  • Make sure to have ample supplies of sanitizing germicidal wipes for surfaces, as well as hand sanitizer by all entry ways, checkout and common areas, including the waiting room.
  • Clean all doorknobs, pens, clipboards, bathrooms, furniture, counters, credit card machines, product displays and any common areas with wipes.
  • Have your staff keep their own areas clean and sanitized.
  • If you offer curbside service for product sales, make sure your team members are wearing masks and gloves when delivering products or receiving deliveries or packages.

Patient protocols and communication. Being transparent and educating your patients on new safety protocols and procedures you have in place when you re-open is key, as is preparing them for what their experience will be like. They need assurance that their safety is your top priority so they feel calm and confident about having procedures done or receiving aesthetic services from your team. Fill them in on:

  • Protocols on waiting before appointments. Will they be waiting in their cars until you text them that their provider is ready? Or, will they be in your waiting room sitting at least six feet apart?
    Will you require them to wear masks or PPE? If so, will you be providing them for your patients?
  • Processes to have paperwork filled out digitally beforehand, limiting the amount of face-to-face interactions and appointments. If you can perform a telehealth consultation, that is ideal.
  • Your new safety precautions, new hours, limited services, limited interaction and social distancing procedures via email, phone calls, newsletters and social media.
  • Pre-screening them for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature checks if applicable.

Employee communication. Now more than ever before, communication with your team is vital. Here are a few topics to discuss with your employees in your daily or weekly team meetings; if you are not communicating regularly with your team, I'd highly recommend you start immediately—as in today:

  • Give clear guidelines on whether or not they will be returning to work or continuing to work from home and what their new schedule will be.
  • Make sure to communicate your safety protocols and expectations of them.
  • Providing training on how to sanitize and handle all cleaning procedures, whether it be virtual or in person, before the office reopens for appointments.
  • Be empathetic to return-to-work challenges, such as childcare or caring for a loved one with COVID-19, and be solution focused.
  • If you had to let go of some of your staff and need to rehire, make sure you have a protocol in place. Will you re-hire your old team first before you look elsewhere? What if they are no longer interested or available? Do you have a plan in place for staffing up?
  • Communicate whether or not they must be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work.
  • Inform them they must adhere to wearing PPE and maintain social distance from other staff and patients.
  • Explain any recent travel requirements with self-isolation and quarantine before they return to work.

New normal. Adapting to the "new normal" is going to take some time. As life and businesses slowly inch back to normal, know that our team at Terri Ross Consulting is here to support you. I invite you to schedule a re-open strategy call with me.

To health and future success!

Terri Ross brings more than 20 years of sales and management experience to the field, having worked with leading-edge medical device companies such as Zeltiq, Medicis, EMD Serono, Merck Schering Plough and Indigo Medical, a surgical division of Johnson.

Ross' vast knowledge and experience as a sales director managing upwards of $20M in revenue and successful teams has allowed her to become a renowned plastic surgery management consultant helping aesthetic practices thrive.

To optimize revenues and business performance, Ross' practice management consulting services help physicians evaluate practice processes including, but not limited to, overall-operating efficiencies, staff skill assessment, customer service and operating efficiency strategies. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan of action to improve productivity, quality, efficiency and return on investment.

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