As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to make its way into the U.S. – with now hundreds of reported cases – we are beginning to prepare for the possibility of outbreaks in our areas. We decided to take measures to avoid contracting the disease and even allowing employees to work from home.
Even though the risk of obtaining the coronavirus for the average U.S. citizen is very low, health officials expect imminent outbreaks to occur. There is a large amount of mystery on the coronavirus, and the main causes of the spread of the disease are still unknown. As a result, it’s vital for us and our radiology partners to begin taking immediate steps to ensure the health and safety of employees and community members. Whether you’re part of Collaborative Imaging or a guest reader, we’d like to share with you important steps to help keep you, your families and your coworkers safe:
Prepare for social distancing.
Even though details on how this disease spreads are still unknown, the most prominent way to contract the coronavirus is through person-to-person transmission. This can be from close contact with another person (within six feet) or through inhaling infected air from respiratory droplets. COVID-19 can also be spread by someone before they show symptoms, which is a major reason why the disease has spread so quickly throughout the world.
This is why preventing person-to-person contact is vital. This can be done by “social distancing,” which means avoiding handshaking, mass gatherings and maintaining distance of approximately six feet from others when possible. Therefore, Collaborative Imaging’s CEO Dhruv Chopra has decided to cancel his speaking event at RBMA’s PaRADigm this year in addition to all the upcoming events until further notice.
Cancel non-essential travel.
Traveling to a country where there have been reported coronavirus cases will put you at an elevated risk of contracting the virus. As the outbreak continues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that Americans avoid any non-essential travel, especially to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, because of the large number of cases in those countries. It is also advised that all travelers should reconsider any cruise trips to and within Asia as the outbreak continues. Collaborative Imaging will even cancel any non-essential domestic trips for the time being. Those who have been overseas are advised to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks and watch for any symptoms.
Establish work from home.
The coronavirus is making more of us consider different workplace scenarios, including the option to work from home. While working from home is not a complete solution, it can help slow the spread of infectious germs. Working remotely is done best when the team is working cohesively in the cloud. Ci already has these types of technology solutions implemented within all workplaces in preparation for these types of scenarios.
Encourage virtual meetings.
Another way to limit the spread of the coronavirus is to move all meetings online. Cancelling conferences and meetings or making them virtual prevents crowds where the disease can spread and limits person-to-person contact. There are many tools, technologies and solutions available that can help make remote work successful, so it will be vital to utilize the tools we have in-house to best serve your needs during this outbreak.
Use telemedicine solutions.
The rise of the coronavirus sheds light on our increasingly valuable tool in the fight against the spread of infection: telemedicine solutions. Since the coronavirus is especially difficult to control, this technology allows for the continuity of care within healthcare facilities and patients. This allows for safe distance without sacrificing the quality of care. It also saves patients from spreading germs to others, like while on public transportation or in the doctor’s waiting room, and to the healthcare providers who tend to them. In addition, televisits only last an average of 10 minutes, allowing physicians to assess patients more quickly and easily. Similarly, we encourage our physicians to utilize our teleradiology tools to read images and communicate with referring physicians.
Establish sanitization centers in each office.
Cleaning regularly is the first line of defense against contagious illnesses, and offices can encourage preventative habits by establishing sanitization centers for employee use. Dedicated sanitization centers are placed in areas that are easily accessible to all employees. We also keep a stock of disinfectant sprays, wipes and hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol. In addition, all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs should be routinely cleaned.
Distribute cell phone sanitizers.
Items that regularly get used by different people should also be cleaned, especially cell phones. Coronavirus and other germs can be on surfaces, like your cell phone screen, for up to nine days. Phones are also known to be more bacteria ridden than toilet seats. Our offices will distribute cell phone sanitizers. We encourage everyone to use them often. Since alcohol and detergent can damage phone screens, it’s best to disinfect phones by using a damp microfiber cloth or a bacteria and germ-killing UV light which is available for use anytime.
Prepare for business continuity.
Outbreaks like the coronavirus are so rare, but they have the potential to bring business operations to a halt. Currently, 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies are experiencing disruptions in their business due to the coronavirus. All businesses should have continuity plans in place early on to help minimize disruptions in operations and ensure viability during an outbreak. We will make sure to also include technology recovery capabilities, as well as begin dialogues with service providers and vendors to determine potential contingency measures during the outbreak. Collaborative Imaging will continue to meet its business goals while we offer all the support and flexibility to our employees and partners. This is the Ci Way.
Move to technology platforms such as email and text
There are also some low-cost measures that can be helpful in preventing the spread of infections, such as eliminating the use of paper or mail distribution and moving to strictly technology platforms, such as email and text. This also includes moving to digital documentation and note taking. Not only is it a more environmentally friendly tactic, it can help limit the spread of germs among the workplace as the passing and sharing of paper and writing tools that carry numerous germs.