COVID-19 has ushered in long-lasting changes in healthcare, according to Benjamin Domb, MD, founder and medical director of the American Hip Institute & Orthopedic Specialists in Des Plaines, Ill.
Dr. Domb identified four changes that are here to stay:
1. Use of masks by everyone, in all areas. To reduce COVID-19 transmission, masks will now be worn by "physicians, staff and patients from the moment they enter a facility," Dr. Domb said. However, by obstructing facial expressions, masks can create obstacles for the patient-physician relationship.
"Physicians will have to make extra effort to connect with their patients (and vice versa) by expressing themselves differently, such as emphasized voice intonation and animated use of hand," Dr. Domb said. "Adapting ways to keep the experience human is important."
2. New appointment protocols. Practices are adopting more stringent safety measures such as increasing personal protective equipment utilization, Dr. Domb said. At American Hip Institute & Orthopedic Specialists, all chairs in the waiting room are spaced to allow for social distancing, patients are asked to arrive no more than 15 minutes before an appointment, visitor restrictions are in place for adults and patients are screened before entrance.
3. Increased outpatient utilization. Performing a hip replacement in an ASC instead of a hospital can reduce the rate of postoperative infection by 20 times, to 0.1 percent, according to data from the American Hip Institute Research Foundation.
"Knowing this, an accelerated migration of care from hospitals to outpatient facilities is likely on the horizon," Dr. Domb said.
4. Telemedicine isn't going anywhere. Telemedicine became the norm for routine checkups and non-urgent treatment "almost overnight," according to Dr. Domb. "Given the convenience of virtual visits, many patients will seek and expect that at least parts of their care be performed remotely, even in a post-COVID era."