covid-19 Mobile, AL

How will our practice change based on the new atmosphere surrounding the Covid-19/ Corona Virus?

Beyond just the immediate effects associated with the 2020 outbreak of coronavirus, medicine in general and our practice specifically is likely to incorporate changes that will extend well beyond the lifecycle of this virus. I believe that we are likely to see changes that reflect our increased awareness of the devastating potential of infectious diseases and changes that accelerate the use of technologies to better serve patients. This recent pandemic has kicked off a wholesale reevaluation of how we conduct business and care for patients. Many assumptions have been challenged and many processes called in to question.

Below are some predictions (a better word may be guesses) about what we might see:

1) Handshakes- I have mixed feelings about what will become of this. Handshakes are a deeply held social custom that we use to greet and acknowledge each other. This habit is so ingrained that I have had difficulty eliminating it and have caught myself almost doing it several times since the Corona outbreak began. While I doubt this will go away, I do believe that this will be reduced and we will see an increase in the use of fist bumps and other gestures.

2) Contact-reducing technologies- The recent need for distancing has been a tipping point for interest in technologies that allow business to be conducted with less physical contact. What does this mean? From a surgical standpoint, operating rooms will look for technologies that enable the use of fewer personnel to do more. Technologies that allow fewer nurses, techs, and device reps to be physically present for a surgical procedure will now be seen as necessary or advantageous rather than just needless additions.

In clinics and office settings, we are likely to use technology to facilitate social distancing. Imagine a scenario where you go to see your Orthopaedic Surgeon for a follow-up visit. Instead of checking in at a desk and sitting in a crowded waiting room, you check in with your phone and wait comfortably in your car and receive a notification when your doctor is ready to see you. There is the potential that schedules could update in real time so that if your doctor is running behind you are notified and have the freedom to go run an errand rather than being stuck in a crowded office.

3)Telehealth/Telemedicine - Telemedicine has been around for a while in various forms, but Covid-19 has accelerated its use. This is certainly extremely convenient for follow-up visits where patients need to report their progress or have a few questions answered, but it is also sometimes useful for new patient visits. In my practice, there have been a surprising number of patients who have sought out second opinions about their knee or hip using Telemedicine. In these cases, patients have often had a previous evaluation and know that they have significant arthritis of their knee or hip and may have already had treatment with medicines or injections. Some patients have even been told already that they should consider joint replacement surgery. For these patients (especially those with a long drive to our office), Telemedicine provides a perfect opportunity to discuss options like custom implants, robotic surgery, outpatient surgery or other procedures they have heard about and have questions about.

In short, Corona virus is unlikely to completely change how we practice, but it is likely to speed up the evolution of some great advances that were already being explored.

Please let us know how we can assist you during this time.

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