All 50 states are in various stages of reopening as more COVID-19 stay-at-home orders lift, but patients may be slow to come back, whether for routine or emergency care. Do your patients feel comfortable getting the care they need?
According to a COVID-19 Market Pulse survey from Sage Growth Partners and Black Book Market Research, 33 percent of consumers said they felt unsafe going to their doctor’s office; 41 percent said they felt unsafe visiting a hospital; and 40 percent said they felt unsafe going to urgent care. In May, NPR reported that ER volumes were down 40-50 percent across the country and doctors are concerned by the drop in heart attack and stroke patients, pointing to fear keeping people in need of care at home.
It’s critical that patients receive the care they need. While visiting the doctor has always come with a little anxiety, now more than ever your community needs to know they’ll be safe in your hands. Here are five ways you can alleviate patients’ fears and frustrations as the pandemic continues and America reopens.
1. Create a COVID-19 Hub on Your Website
Patients have a lot of questions, and you can alleviate a lot of their concerns by providing detailed, clear, transparent information about your services and potential risk. That starts with creating an information hub on your website and promoting it with a banner across your entire site. Answer questions such as:
- What should I expect when I get to the care facility?
- What’s the process for checking in? Do you offer a virtual waiting room, so I can wait in my car?
- How many patients are you taking at a time?
- What practices do you have in place to support social distancing?
- What requirements do you have for staff and patients coming into the facility?
- What types of appointments are you taking?
- What do you do if someone who has visited your facility screens positive for COVID-19?
- What sanitation measures are you taking?
2. Get the Word Out Online and Offline
You can’t simply rely on patients visiting your website to find out what you’re doing to mitigate risk during the pandemic, especially when the way you’re serving patients is likely changing weekly. Most of your communication has probably focused on patients coming to your facility, but don’t forget you need to reach out to the wider community to let them know you’re still there for them, and they mustn’t be afraid to get the care they need.
In partnership with Adventist Health Lodi Memorial, the Emergency Design Collective was formed to take a human-centered approach to solving the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their team brainstormed various ways to disseminate information, including online and offline, and organized them by impact and ease of implementation.
Here are a few communication vehicles to consider:
- Text messaging
- Social media ads
- TV commercials
- Community organizers
- Food banks
3. Get Proactive with Current Patients
Create special communications for your current patients based on whether they’ve visited recently, canceled scheduled appointments, or haven’t scheduled anything in the last few or upcoming months. Even if your patients don’t need to visit your facility right now, you can take this as an opportunity to let them know about how you’re dealing with the crisis and taking extra precautions to provide the best care.
Use email, text messaging, and calls to keep patients updated. Being proactive and transparent will ease their concerns and increase their likelihood to come back for care when it’s needed.
4. Mitigate Risk for In-Person Visits
In spite of a rise in telehealth, of course not all visits can be done via telehealth. Your patients will appreciate the changes you’ve made in your processes for serving patients in-person. Here are a few critical changes that can alleviate their fears of visiting your facility:
- Provide parking lot check-in and a virtual waiting room
- Communicate wait times and patients’ spot in line via text messaging
- Send instructions via text message when you’re ready for patients to enter
- Offer paperless forms and payment that patients can access from their own devices
With Jellyfish Health, you can adopt these new processes quickly. Most clients are up and running in 24 hours.
5. Increase Patient Satisfaction with Continuous Improvement
You’re navigating through difficult times and implementing a variety of changes to the way you serve patients. Naturally, there’s a learning curve. The best way for you to measure how you’re doing is by checking in with patients. Collect feedback with an online patient survey, so you can create a continuous feedback loop for improvement on your new processes and communication. Jellyfish Health’s platform makes it easy to add this feature to your patient communication platform.
Communication and agility have been key throughout this pandemic. As America reopens, you’ll need to stay focused on serving patients in new ways to alleviate their fears and frustrations. Ensure you have the right tools and technology to help you get through what’s to come. Jellyfish Health can help with online scheduling, patient messaging, paperless forms, a virtual waiting room, digital surveys, and analytics.