As standard procedure, the pharmaceutical sector has always had painstaking rules and guidelines to avoid cross-contamination and produce accurate results. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an even larger emphasis on such safety and sanitary practices.
Aside from more stringent laboratory practices to avoid infections and virus spread within these spaces, significant reorganization must occur in the physical office space. Greater care must be taken in these areas, as healthcare workers deal closely with many patients for checkups and tests daily.
Rebuilding the Post-COVID-19 Workplace
There are plenty of adjustments to be made. These are some of the most important changes the healthcare industry should be making in the workplace.
Rethink the physical layout and capacity of clinics and hospitals
The physical space is crucial to the safety of a post-COVID-19 hospital. Before putting protocols into practice, management teams must first reorganize the structure of workplace premises to accommodate the changes that will be made.
The first is to check on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Work with a fabrication company to create an effective HVAC system with good air filtration and purification.
In addition to efficient HVAC systems, clinics and hospitals have to decongest their premises and prevent patients from coming in unless necessary. Open telehealth options for out-patient care to minimize the risk of virus transmission. Telehealth services are also a good method for screening patients who have COVID-19 and giving urgent care to those who need it.
Follow standard COVID-19 prevention procedures still
It remains necessary to prioritize the safety of everyone, studying various scenarios and coming up with a strict protocol that addresses these.
Redo the layout of your workspaces to enable a two-meter distance while people are working. Have everyone wear masks at all times, too, especially as healthcare personnel are at higher risk due to the setting. Have a strict handwashing policy, too.
Have every area and every facility properly sanitized also before workers come back to the workplace. Common areas such as cafeterias should be paid special attention. All onsite workers should also have regular temperature and symptom checks to keep track of everybody’s condition.
Take these safety measures to heart even outside the office
The danger posed by COVID-19 and other viruses is that catching it involves the risk of spreading it to people far from the source of transmission. Healthcare personnel have to take special precautions to prevent any virus from spread when they leave the workplace.
During the pandemic, the safest way to transport workers to and from hospital premises is to set up a private service to regularly fetch and drop off healthcare personnel. It remains essential to wear personal protective equipment and maintain physical distancing even while inside a vehicle. There should also be no curtains and carpets in use inside the services.
Divide the workforce
Jobs that do not require the physical presence of personnel should shift permanently to remote work. For example, equip your communications and HR staff with proper tools to transition from onsite to work from home. This makes it safer for nurses, doctors, and lab technicians who need to report to work physically and makes physical distancing easier.
If possible, do seminars, training sessions, and workshops remotely via conference calls, too. Disseminate information and lesson materials through emails and digital handouts instead.
Increase adoption of digital, contactless technologies
This is also the time to become less reliant on human capital for specific roles in the workplace. Where possible, adopt digital technologies to lighten the workload of physical workers. Using these also minimizes contact among persons.
If you have areas that require fingerprint scanning to open, it is wise to switch these to touchless technologies such as facial scanners instead. Minimize opportunities for surface contact among workers.
Think of the many ways you can further automate your processes. The Mayo Clinic has used Diagnostic Robotics, which has a virtual triage platform that remotely helps patients receive the proper diagnosis and directs them to the proper resources should further treatment be necessary.
While these efforts are not meant to replace the decisions made by medical doctors, they greatly reduce the amount of foot traffic a hospital receives. With fewer patients showing up in hospitals and clinics for emergencies that can be treated at home, doctors have more space to focus on cases that require more urgent care.
There is much work to be done even as vaccinations are rolling out in many countries. As we continue to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and its variants, the healthcare sector also continues to evolve in its best practices.