On April 10, the United States surpassed Italy for the most confirmed coronavirus deaths in the world. Hospitals across the country are being inundated with COVID-19 patients, and medical supplies are dwindling. With infection rates still growing, hospitals and healthcare providers are preparing for the potential dilemma of having to decide which patients will receive lifesaving care.
Concentrated efforts are required to help reduce virus transmission, direct patients to the right level of care, and to lessen the burden on the healthcare system during the surge of coronavirus patients. Here are five solutions to help offload the flow of patients and improve hospital triage efficiency:
Online assessment tools such as Apple’s COVID-19 Screening Tool and Vital’s C19Check have been designed to help people assess their symptoms and determine whether they should stay home or seek further medical assistance at the hospital. Preliminary screening can reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room by helping people determine whether they should seek further medical treatment or remain at home, as well as prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and other illnesses to healthcare professionals and other patients.
2. Telehealth Assessments.
Patient portals, advice lines and phone consultations with medical professionals are another way to reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. Telehealth also makes health care more accessible to the elderly, those with limited mobility or transportation, and those that reside in rural areas. Learn more about the growing importance of telehealth here or schedule your free telehealth consultation here.
3. Patient Ranking System.
Some hospitals are implementing point systems that calculate a patient’s likelihood to benefit from ICU care, determining the patient’s chances of surviving hospitalization, as well as factoring in life expectancy. This will also help medical practitioners determine allocation of hospital resources, such as ventilators. By better prioritizing patient care and medical supplies, hospitals will be able to make a big difference in COVID-19 survival rates.
4. Expanding Triage Locations.
Many hospitals are setting up COVID-19 treatment and triage locations outside of the emergency room, either in their parking lots or in non-traditional wings of the hospital. Other hospitals have opened up drive-thru testing sites or are providing COVID-19 testing to patients referred by physicians, often via telemedicine, at off-site locations. By isolating COVID-19 patients and limiting the number of face-to-face encounters, this reduces the possibility of spreading infections to healthcare professionals and other patients, thereby reducing the overall number of cases a hospital needs to triage at any given time. It will also help evaluate patients for medical treatment on the basis of need prior to admitting them to the emergency room, further saving time and resources.
5. Outpatient Diagnostic Testing.Hospitals are flooded with patients undergoing diagnostic testing, which leads to long wait times for test results. On the other hand, outpatient imaging centers have the capacity to see patients, and are equipped with the latest diagnostic and imaging equipment that can help identify and triage sick patients. Within Health offers access to radiologists and partner imaging centers throughout New York and Long Island, along with a mobile x-ray provider, who can quickly determine if chest exams such as x-rays or CT scans are necessary. The scan helps assess lung damage to help prioritize care for patients and reduce the strain on hospitals. Chest x-rays have emerged as the frontline diagnostic imaging test by detecting lung abnormalities or inflammation, which can indicate the presence of pneumonia. Patients that utilize these services will get faster results for themselves, while reducing the burden on our healthcare professionals and hospitals.
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