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3 New Tools to Help Providers Resume Cash-Generating Procedures

As medical and surgical practices continue to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, many providers are eager to resume elective procedures and reopen their offices. Yet the question of how and when to do so safely remains a major concern. 

In recent weeks some organizations have released tools and guidance for determining how practices can safely proceed. Here’s a look at three of them:

1. Surgical scoring system

A new scoring system developed by researchers at the University of Chicago helps surgery departments decide when to prioritize and move forward with procedures that shouldn’t be delayed. Writing in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the researchers describe the Medically Necessary Time-Sensitive (MeNTS) Prioritization process, which has allowed surgeons at the University of Chicago to increase the number of procedures they’re moving ahead with.

The authors note that while some surgeries may be commonly described as “elective,” they are still medically necessary for patients and often shouldn’t be postponed. Otherwise, the patient’s condition may worsen. 

The MeNTS Prioritization process uses a scoring system that can be applied anywhere, regardless of practice setting, and follows guidelines developed by individual surgical specialties. 

View a scoring system sample worksheet here and read the Journal of the American College of Surgeons article here.

2. AMA guide for reopening medical practices

The American Medical Association has released a new resource containing a step-by-step guide to reopening medical practices, as well as several reopening tools and best practices. 

The available tools include: 

  • A chart, fact-sheet, and recommendations for state-specific resumption of elective or non-urgent procedures
  • A step-by-step reopening plan that includes needs around personal protective equipment, routine disinfecting, staff scheduling, and telemedicine 
  • Guidance for establishing safety protocols for staff, patients, and visitors, including physical distancing, pre-appointment screening, restricting non-patient visitors, and other factors
  • Resources for medical liability, privacy and confidentiality policy that reflect the new COVID-19 environment and concerns

3. Post-surge surgery calculator

Anticipating a surge in demand for elective procedures as the pandemic recedes, analytics software company LeanTaaS has released a free tool to help organizations model how long it will take to complete its backlog of postponed cases.

Users can enter organization-specific data into the Elective Surgery Backlog Recovery Calculator (which is available via web browser) to estimate how many months it will take to recover its surgery case backlog and predict the number of additional cases per month.

In addition to these tools, the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses, and the American Hospital Association issued a joint “Roadmap for Resuming Elective Surgery after COVID-19 Pandemic.” 

That joint statement outlined principles and considerations for facilities, including seeing a sustained reduction in new COVID-19 cases in the relevant geographic area for at least 14 days, having robust testing protocols, and ensuring an adequate supply for personal protective equipment.