Initial reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic focused on control. Restrictions were imposed by government, physical contact reduced, medical facilites reconfigured for those who were seriously ill.
These were rational moves, although unwanted outcomes were developing in the background. The medical profession realised that access to specialist care was being diminished and this could bring serious harm.
As teaching subsided, skills and knowledge could also begin to lessen, along with benefits to patients from interdisciplinary input.
Redressing The Balance
The principles for clinical practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery needed to be addressed as much as any medical sector. Patient safety is a first principle of care, with the safety of staff also important.
Procedures for consultations and treatment were changed, to incorporate reduced contamination risk. Personal contact would be different, protective equipment required, hygiene taken to new lengths.
Alongside other approaches, such as regular testing, lower use of waiting rooms and unaccompanied visits, a return to in person treatment has been possible. There are cases where this is by far the best option.
The mobility of patients, or physicians can still be impeded at times, to serve Covid security. A sound reason to find alternatives for aspects of clinical service and communication between colleagues.
Technology & Improved Care
The use of modern technology in medicine is not new, from imaging to robotic surgery. This has also come our rescue during coronavirus, thanks to an intense effort to embrace change and develop new systems.
Multidisciplinary meetings can take place virtually, to discuss a patient’s needs, or organize complex surgery. Colleagues feel less isolated and able to offer better treatment.
Patients and their specialists can share meaningful time via a video link. This will not cover every medical eventuality but in the oral and maxillofacial field, much will be seen.
Virtual consultation rooms can be supplemented by virtual teaching, or knowledge sharing. Leading institutions had begun this in recent years, they chose to accelerate change in a way never seen.
Prospective surgeons can now feel as if they are right in the operating theatre, thanks to virtual reality experiences. Advanced webinars cover much, from laser surgery, to understanding subtle symptoms.
Long Term Benefits
Few patients fail to cope with the required technology. Questionnaires before interaction can identify those needing greater support, a similar approach afterwards helps to hone the procedure.
Unique learning experiences are taking training to the next level, to develop the specialists of the future. In some ways, information sharing has risen to a level which will drive us forward beyond the pandemic.
Online technology knows no geographical boundaries, trainees, or patients can be anywhere on the globe, a great webinar be truly international. Unprecedented challenges have increased our communication base.
There will always be a need for human interaction in medicine, sound reasons for patients and their doctors to be together. Every member of our team look forward to seeing that freely happen again.
We simply wanted to reassure every patient that maxillofacial specialists, along with much of the medical profession are driving forward.
Our entry on treatment during coronavirus outlines the practical needs and steps we have taken. This protection is added to through creative options that remove barriers and could see even better care in the long term.