3. Providing health services effectively
The section on PROVIDING HEALTH SERVICES EFFECTIVELY describes approaches for service delivery planning and patient pathways for suspected COVID-19 cases. It also considers efforts by countries to maintain other essential services during periods of excessive demand for health services.
3.1 Planning services
As of April 8, the situation in Austrian hospitals appears manageable with sufficient bed and ventilator capacities for COVID-19 patients.
Measures to avoid shortages in hospitals in the course of the COVID-19 crisis have been implemented. These include the reorientation of departments, postponement of elective surgeries and non-urgent interventions. Specific hospitals or new hospital units have been designated and created in each region to administer and treat patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. Further, strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) apply in regard to separate hospital entrances for people with symptoms of COVID-19 to protect other patients and staff.
Capacities are also used from rehabilitation centres that are currently not operating and might be used as long-term care wards. Furthermore, empty conference centres (e.g. in Vienna, Salzburg) have been reoriented in preparation for accommodating non-acute COVID-19 patients. These centres are currently sparsely used.
Teleconsultations in psychotherapy have been made possible and are reimbursed by the social health insurance. In addition, e-medication is being facilitated, and sickness absences may be issued by GPs over the telephone.
Specific guidelines issued at federal level for hospitals: https://www.sozialministerium.at/Informationen-zum-Coronavirus/Coronavirus---Fachinformationen.html (accessed on 3rd April 2020)