MSSNY Interim Guidance for Reopening the Healthcare System & Best Practices for Reopening from COVID-19

May 6, 2020 by Mandy Qualls

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, For Employers

Last modified May 7, 2020

The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) has proposed several steps to reopen New York’s health care system in a manner that should benefit the health care workforce and patients. These steps include:

  • An ongoing and responsive public education is key to reopening the health care system: Our understanding of COVID-19 transmission, testing and treatment is rapidly changing and evolving. Reopening the health care system will take a concerted public awareness campaign to educate patients and the public when it is safe to seek care in their physician’s office or other health care setting. The public messaging must be responsive to changes in testing and treatment as well as the ebbs and flows of the disease.
  • Reopening the health care system will vary based on geography and local conditions: When the health care system can open and to what degree will be highly dependent on local conditions. The transmission and prevalence of COVID-19 has varied across the state and within counties and cities. It is highly critical that communities continually evaluate conditions and the impacted populations and make recommendations accordingly. Local communities should be prepared to adjust preventative measures and recommendations rapidly and be responsive to changing conditions.
  • Ensuring adequate capacity in the health care system: The health care system needs to inventory available capacity to meet current demand while maintaining capacity for future surges including PPE, testing and treatment supplies as well as staffing capacity. Special consideration should be made to ensure staff are given resources to support resiliency.
  • Federal and state regulatory flexibility should be maintained, in particular telehealth payment parity must be maintained: Regulatory flexibility has allowed practices to adapt to changing conditions and continue to see patients while either they themselves may have been exposed to COVID-19 or to prevent exposure for their patients through telehealth. This has allowed for screening and initial treatment of patients for COVID-19 but also managing of unrelated acute or chronic conditions. Similarly changes in reimbursement around cost sharing for testing and treatment or billing have enabled patients and physicians to seek and bill for care and the reduced administrative burden allows physicians to focus on patient care. These regulatory flexibilities must be permanently maintained to allow for the health care system to be agile and responsive to changing conditions.
  • Widespread practice level safety protocols: As physician practices and health care facilities reopen, every precaution should be taken to minimize the risk of infection, for both office staff and patients. MSSNY recommends that all practices and facilities adopt comprehensive safety protocols including managing patient flow, limiting visitation, checking temperatures, remote check-in, etc.
  • Reopening should be in phases based on testing, treatment and data: The health care system should reopen in phases based on data and information around the prevalence of the disease, immunity, and available treatment. This will continue to change as the science, availability and accessibility and testing and treatment evolves. Certain sub-populations may be recommended to be seen first based on risk status (i.e. pediatrics who are low risk) or need (i.e. chronic conditions or delayed treatment).

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