COVID-19 & Medical Practices:Updating Protocols for Rep Engagement and Communication

As the world enters uncharted territory with COVID-19, we at RxVantage would first and foremost like to thank you for all that you do every day to keep us, our families, our friends, and our communities healthy and safe.

Our mission has always been to drive educational interactions between medical practices and life science experts with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. We have head from many practices how difficult it is to stay on top of the ever-evolving guidelines and best practices for how to provide excellent patient care in a pandemic. It is for this reason that our platform is (and always has been) free, to help you stay informed so you can focus on what matters most-your patients. 

Below are some patterns we've seen emerging within our community of thousands of medical practices:
1. Ban on non-essential personnel: In communities with a large presence of COVID-19, many practices are temporarily suspending on-site appointments with non-essential personnel, such as life science reps and experts, most for 4-6 weeks. These restrictions are expanding across the country and treated as preventative measures in practices of all specialties. See below for a sample vendor/rep protocol that a large health system sent out to all of their reps. 

Some questions to consider as you build a policy specific to your practice include: Are there any reps allowed in your practice, and if so, what safety protocols or social distancing measures must reps acknowledge and adhere to? What is the protocol (who and how) for requesting/approving reps to enter your office during this time? Do you have a plan in place to maintain communication with reps if visits are banned? If you are still accepting lunches, are there local restaurants that have pre-packaged options? How can educational materials be distributed if visits are restricted?
Schedule changes can be implemented quickly through free technologies, such as RxVantage. These types of automated tools send notifications to reps when appointments are canceled, and prevent new meetings from being scheduled outside of the office's unique policy. Practice managers and administrators that are able to leverage these tools can have confidence that the system is taking care of previously manual tasks, and allows them to focus their time and attention on other, more urgent, tasks. 

2. Increased communication with life science reps: During the COVID outbreak, many medical offices have dramatically increased communication with their local reps. While reps and other industry experts might not be a first priority, they do represent a community that needs to be addressed-and the quicker that can happen, the better. Through RxVantage's online messaging platform, practices are efficiently providing real-time updates about evolving policies and protocols through group or individual messages. What was previously viewed as a nice-to-have feature to find and message the right reps as needed, has become an essential communication tool, overnight. Knowing that all reps receive their updates gives these practices further confidence that reps know how to act in their practice or not come in at all.  

3. Scheduling sample drops: Practices that rely on reps for samples are developing new protocols to ensure their supply isn't disrupted. They are designating very specific times and appointments for sample drops and new locations where they will be signed for, depending on their physical office space. For example, some practices will designate 30-minute time slots twice a week, with instructions to use a side door or even stay in their vehicles. Ensure any sanitation or sterilization procedures are clear and followed, and consider designating a single staff member to collect the samples.

4. Remote meetings: Telemedicine is seeing a boom in the field, and many practices are also setting up phone or web meetings with nurse educators, reimbursement specialists, MSLs, etc. Many platforms are available to coordinate remote meetings, and Google & Microsoft are among companies providing free premium-level accounts during the pandemic to help people stay connected. 

5. Universal COVID protocols: Some large medical groups and systems are rolling out these new protocols across all of their practice locations to ensure consistency of communication and enforcement of their policies. 

Sample Vendor/Rep Policy Update: Download here

Jeremy Gilman writes for RxVantage.
As a free service, RxVantage has compiled sample policies, best practices, and insights from thousands of medical practices about updating and communicating protocols for life science reps. In this succinct, 15-minute webinar, learn about strategies to stay in touch with nurse educators, reimbursement specialists, and MSLs so they can continue to educate your care team and provide critical samples and resources.