In the wave of the coronavirus, the country at large has made astounding efforts to social distance and operate businesses remotely. Healthcare providers have also made impressive and rapid transformations in the way they deliver care in order to address the highly infectious nature of the disease. That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet. Despite advanced solutions such as antimicrobial medical computer systems and widespread telehealth adoption, hospitals are still overwhelmed and news as to whether or not a vaccine is even possible is sparse. To make matters worse, according to several epidemiologists, a coronavirus second wave is very likely to make itself known this fall.

What will the Coronavirus Second Wave Look Like?

Like the original wave of the coronavirus, the second spike in cases is going to be something unprecedented and difficult to predict. Not only are the numbers of cases unprecedented, but many countries also aren’t experienced in repeatedly opening and closing for business. Many jurisdictions have executed shutdowns, many have begun reopening effectively, but how many jurisdictions are prepared to close down again in such a short amount of time after experiencing their first shutdown in years? 

There’s no real predicting how this new wave of COVID will impact us or what kinds of changes it’ll ask of us in regards to how we run businesses, administer care, or even socialize. Despite this uncertainty, however, hospitals are preparing for the coronavirus second wave using knowledge of how the first wave of coronavirus impacted society. Below are some of the practices we’ve seen employed with resounding success during the first wave that many hospitals are planning on bolstering in preparation for the coronavirus’ second wave.   

1.) Updating Triage Practices

Hospitals were very much caught off guard by the first wave of COVID-19, as we all were. Of course, they’ve dealt with infectious disease before, but with COVID-19’s speed of proliferation and infection rates, rapid changes needed to be made in how patients were triaged and gauged for their need of care. 

Triage practices are constantly evolving, but hospitals have further facilitated those triaging practices with new medical tech made available to them. Tele-triaging has become resoundingly popular during these times where everyone is being asked to stay home whenever they can. Through tele-triage, physicians like the ones at Jefferson Health have been able to meet with patients digitally through webcam equipped medical panel PC in order to gauge symptoms before patients jeopardize their safety and the safety of others by coming in physically. 

WIth the prospects of a second wave of COVID-19 rising, more and more hospitals and care facilities are setting up more telehealth-capable rooms and computer systems across their facility to increase the availability of tele-triage as well as other telehealth capabilities. Ideally, doing so will allow them to see a much larger number of patients at a quicker rate while saving on PPE expenditure.

2.) Staying Conscious of PPE Stocks

Personal Protective Equipment supplies were rocked by the sudden and aggressive appearance of COVID-19. Reserves were all but depleted, but we’ve seen an amazing resurgence of supplies from industrial manufacturers who have stepped up, transforming parts of their operation into PPE production plants and donating supplies to hospitals and care facilities. Seeing how helpful this backup was during the first moments where the virus caught us flat-footed, many healthcare providers are beginning to reach out to manufacturers in preparation of the predicted rise in cases.

Not only are Healthcare networks like St. Luke’s partnering with manufacturers for PPE supplies, they’re educating their staff on the different types of PPE equipment available and when they should be used. From gloves and gowns to masks and goggles, there are several types of PPEs and many providers understand we need to be more conscious on how they’re used and depleted. Hospitals have already limited depletion with tele-triaging and remote care like we mentioned, but facilities are also retraining their staff on how and when to use these articles of protection so none are being wasted on cases that don’t deserve them. Not only does this help the COVID effort, seeing this training re-emphasized also goes a long way towards addressing burnout in nurses, a large majority of which fear infecting themselves or their loved ones.

This training can be done digitally through training modules or notifications sent periodically and repeatedly to doctors and nurses through their workstations or medical tablets.

3.) Remote Cart Care

The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate between patients and healthcare workers. Physicians and nurses are just as susceptible, if not much more so, than the patients they treat since they’re exposed to the infectious disease several times a day. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to have this already dwindling workforce become further incapacitated. Hospitals know this better than anyone else and have started to incorporate more “infection-conscious” solutions to treating patients that are already within their facilities.

Telehealth technology solutions such as remote control-enabled medical cart computers have proven essential towards keeping doctors a safe distance away from patients while still enabling them to communicate face to face with them. Facilities have been strengthening their tech-based solutions with fully antimicrobial medical devices that limit the spread of disease transmission and carts capable of being controlled remotely, allowing physicians to visit patients and even run certain tests and tracking capabilities with compatible peripheral testing devices.

In some instances, these remote control carts can even be used to scan patient temperatures remotely allowing for not only treatment and testing, but vigilant, safe consistency in the monitoring of symptoms across even hospital staff. 

4.) Limiting Non-Essential Services

Healthcare is already stretched thin on days where an infectious virus isn’t rocking the world. The healthcare sector as a whole is beginning to understand that treating the crowds of patients in need of testing and treatment is demanding more of their bandwidth that they don’t currently have available. This concern is also highlighted in the recommendations sent out to healthcare providers by the CMS telling them to limit all non-essential and elective procedures so that beds, staff, and PPE  can all be allocated on treating those in immediate need. 

Fortunately, several hospitals are taking these recommendations seriously and beginning to limit their services only to immediately necessary treatments and procedures. Like we mentioned earlier, triage, not just for gauging infection risk, but in regards to measuring the intensity of injuries, illnesses, and surgical need not tied to the coronavirus is being streamlined in order to make sure all supplies and staff being used to treat a patient for any condition is absolutely necessary. The same can be said about telehealth being used to test and triage patients from home before they can come into the facility and waste valuable resources on not immediately life-threatening conditions.

5.) Real Time Location Services

Real time location services (RTLS) have been used before in the medical space in order to closely track patient movement, but the tech solution has yet to see an increase in popularity and practicality the likes of which have been brought on due to the likelihood of a coronavirus second wave. Using an RTLS program in conjunction with RFID badges, healthcare facilities are unlocking the ability to closely track and monitor both patients and physicians within the building. What this means for staff is that whenever someone is confirmed positive for COVID-19, location logs can be pulled up on that person, revealing every room, patient, and staff member they’ve come into contact with. This allows staff to quickly and responsively quarantine all those at risk in order to prevent potential spread further. 

RTLS are also incredibly versatile since they can be used to tack tools and medical equipment as well. By scanning equipment into the system, staff can always be up to date on the location of essential PPEs and antimicrobial hardware needed to treat patients safely.   

The Coronavirus Second Wave is Coming But So is the Second Wave of Preparedness

As unprecedented as the Coronavirus second wave is, we’re much more prepared for it than we were the first wave. Across several health facilities we’re seeing decision makers take what they’ve learned in regards to social distancing, tele-treatment, and much more and further optimizing it in preparation for this new threat. For more information on how you can further optimize your facility with antimicrobial hardware, contact an expert from Cybernet today.