No question, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for medical practices across the United States. Uncertainty remains regarding bringing patients and services back into our offices. One factor that distinguishes many ObGyn practices from other specialties is that our practices have remained open—in some form—since the beginning of the pandemic. In various parts of the country, gynecologic surgeries and routine office visits have been significantly reduced; however, deliveries and gynecologic emergencies have continued.
In this article, I suggest a framework of strategies and resources to provide insight for outpatient operations. Individual practices will vary across the nation depending on local conditions. Full practice capacity may take on a different look than it had prior to the pandemic, and there is opportunity to change the way we operate.
Strategy 1: Consult regulatory requirements frequently
As the local status of COVID-19 evolves quickly, it is essential to examine the frequently updated recommendations from regulatory agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Clinical practices that function within health systems need to demonstrate alignment with hospital or university policies and procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and individual state departments of health provide dynamic resources that are easily accessible online.1-3
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to be an excellent medical society resource.4 Subspecialty organizations that provide up-to-date guidance include the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS), AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO).5-9 These resources are updated as more information about COVID-19 emerges, and they may be modified to different local-regional conditions.
The professional liability insurance carrier is an important source of insight for a number of circumstances, including modifications to your office practice, such as returning to full-scope or part-time practice; operating outside normal clinical service arrangements (for example, assisting with emergency care); offering telehealth services; and adding extra hours or employees to accommodate the patient backlog. Business insurance coverage is a separate issue to consider. Reviewing the practice policy may protect your business from COVID-related liabilities.
Consulting with legal counselors can be helpful. They can assist with navigating various practice and personnel COVID-related changes, as well as developing a viable plan for patients who were previously insured pre–COVID-19 who are currently uninsured.
Continue to: Strategy 2: Reimagine schedule capacity...