Sticking it to COVID

Updated on September 25, 2021

How hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices can fulfill competing mandates

By Andrew Witkin

Thanks to the current pandemic, medical providers find themselves in a no-win situation. They have to provide care for record numbers of people, while at the same time making sure not to create conditions that lead to the spread of the virus. Providers face unprecedented patient loads, but they are struggling to find the financial resources to provide emergency and other services. It’s a Catch-22 for everyone involved — every decision is the wrong one. After all, how can medical facilities do two seemingly contradictory things at the same time?

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how all medical facilities operate, from solo practitioners to the world’s largest hospitals. From taking protective measures to improving ventilation systems, doctors and other practitioners are going above and beyond normal protocols to ensure that they don’t inadvertently harm, rather than help, the communities they serve. In fact, in the earliest days of the pandemic here in North America, social distancing was framed as a way not only to keep people healthy, but as a public health initiative to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients who needed ventilators and other specialized care.

In a nutshell, this is the essence of flattening the curve, but it needs to be balanced with the realities of day-to-day life. The bottom line is that it is impossible for every person in a community to remain housebound for two weeks. Essential workers need to get to their jobs. Residents need to be able to buy food and medicine. Dogs need to be walked. And even in a world where everyone is social distancing, people invariably get ill and need in-person medical attention. That creates a significant nexus point for the virus to spread.

The Perfect Compromise

This leads to situations where patients and their family members are waiting in common areas of medical facilities. Has anyone who has ever been to a doctor knows, lobbies were never designed for social distancing. Everything from lines to seating was built with normal use in mind, and the idea of standing six feet apart seems almost impossible. What if there was a tool to enforce social distancing that didn’t disrupt the flow of public spaces in medical buildings?

In fact, there are plenty of ways to do this, and the good news is that almost all of them can be done extremely quickly in a low-tech way. Take stickers. You may be asking yourself, how can something as basic as stickers play a role in public health? The answer is that by strategically placing durable stickers on the floor, medical facilities don’t have to put up barriers or ropes. At the same time, stickers can alleviate stress and frayed nerves because it is crystal clear to everyone where people should be standing. If you’re not standing on a sticker, you’re standing too close!

Stickers also have an added advantage that most medical facilities haven’t thought about: the ability to monetize floor space. A busy hospital lobby could be seen by hundreds of people a day. And not just casually glanced down, but actively noticed as people try to position themselves in the safest possible configuration. That’s quite a bit of visibility. And it’s an opportunity to generate revenues by selling that valuable marketing real estate. Stickers aren’t very expensive to produce, so the profit margin for hospitals and medical buildings would be incredibly high. There are few ways to get that much attention at such a low price point.

Not every sticker needs to be an ad. In fact, they are a great opportunity to share helpful messaging to visitors and patients. For example, a decal on the floor could emphasize best practices for handwashing or give tips on safely riding public transportation. The opportunities are endless. Because the average wait at each dot can be several minutes long, there are real opportunities for those messages to sink in.

There are countless ways to enforce public safety. From advanced tools such as mobile contact tracing, to strict policies on sanitizing and enforced distances in seating areas, all of these methods can play major roles in reducing the risk of COVID spread. Of course, there is also a vaccine that we all hope will be on the horizon soon. But in the short term, low-technology approaches can be implemented quickly and effectively — and improve public safety as we battle through the pandemic together. 

Andrew Witkin is the founder and CEO of StickerYou, a global, e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products that empower consumers and businesses to create high-quality materials for personal expression, marketing, and packaging.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.