Dr. Nitin Khanna: Why surgery centers, telehealth services are essential for reopening the economy

As the economy reopens, a "structured system" is needed to ensure patient, staff and physician safety, according to Nitin Khanna, MD.

Dr. Khanna — who helped publish a road map for resuming elective surgeries for the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery — said two of the key pillars for the safe return to normal operations are telehealth adoption and surgery center utilization.

In a blog post for Munster, Ind.-based Spine Care Specialists, Dr. Khanna explained why these elements are essential:

1. Telehealth adoption. "Telehealth provides a convenient and efficient system for interaction between physicians and patients. It also enables physicians to maintain close contact with patients while avoiding one-on-one in-person interactions, avoiding long drives and crowded waiting rooms. There will always be a role for in-person doctor visits, but a hybrid model seems to be the best solution in navigating the new COVID world."

2. Use of freestanding surgery centers. "Surgery centers have always been a safe and efficient model for healthcare delivery. Operating rooms have implemented special precautions above and beyond the standard surface cleaning guidelines by the CDC and AORN. Typically run with a smaller staff, the centers allow for social distancing precautions as well as eliminate the proximity of an emergency room or ICU with COVID-sick patients. Clinical results demonstrate extremely low complication rates for outpatient surgeries — lumbar fusion, cervical disc replacements, [sacroiliac] joint fusion. Additionally, the surgery center allows for near complete control of the clinical pathway from check-in to discharge."

More articles on surgery centers:
4 COVID-19 supply considerations for ASCs
5 hospitals, health systems opening or planning ASCs
ASCs reopening to patients: Check these 7 boxes

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