More patients who have hospital and GP appointments will be asked to wait in their car until they are ready to be seen as part of a radical shift in the way care is delivered due to the coronavirus crisis.
Hospitals and family doctors are hoping to ramp up treatments for non-Covid patients in the coming weeks, amid concern about a backlog of waiting lists and a reluctance among the public to seek emergency treatment.
Dublin GP Dr John O'Brien, who has been seconded by the HSE to oversee primary care during the crisis, said it was "easier to slam the brakes" - where appointments were deferred over the last two months - than to take them off.
"You do not want to expose anyone to unnecessary risk of getting the virus.
"There will be more virtual consultations where the patient is contacted by phone or online," he said.
"If they need to see the doctor, a good deal of information would already have been gathered if they need to come to surgery - the time they are physically present would be minimised."
He said GPs who operated out of modest premises would be hardest hit by implementing physical distancing in the waiting room, and patients would be nervous about sharing space with others.
"Patients who have come by car could be asked to stay in the car until the GP is ready to see them. But not every patient has a car," he added.
"We have to proceed with new ways of working. It will slow things down. There is no simple one size fits all."
He emphasised the important message to patients was that GPs were open for business and they should not hesitate to make an appointment if they had any concern.
Dr Niall Sheehy, a radiologist in St James's Hospital in Dublin, said the area of radiology, involving scans and diagnostics, had taken a huge hit in capacity because so much equipment such as CT scanners had been given to the Covid-19 section of care.
"It takes it out of circulation for everybody else," he said.
"Patients are not able to be brought in at the same density as before."
The capacity to do outpatient work has diminished significantly. He added: "The challenge from a radiology point of view as we move on is will we get the capacity back."
He said in the future, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it would not be possible to scan at the same rate as before.
"If you had a throughput of five patients per hour, you might have three patients per hour," said Dr O'Brien.
He said that down the line the way the hospital system was designed was not suitable for physical distancing.
"Waiting rooms can be tiny," he added.
While other areas of patient care can use telemedicine, that is not possible in radiology because the patient must be physically present.
Dr Stephen Frohlich, who manages a large practice of intensive care consultants and anaesthetists in the Beacon Hospital, said the average occupancy of private hospitals, which have been temporarily taken over by the HSE, was at less than 20pc.
Private practice doctors will work as public consultants under a HSE contract but they needed their expenses for consulting rooms and staff reimbursed, he added.