5 Things to Communicate to Patients About the COVID-19 Crisis

Pensive senior man looking through a window isolating form Covid virus.

Are your patients expressing concern over the COVID-19 outbreak?

It’s during times of great stress that practices can build stronger relationships with their clients and provide a better patient experience.

Whether you’re open or closed, your patients still need you.

Here are 5 things to communicate with patients right now:

  1. Concern for their safety. Patients are concerned about their health and about infecting others. Let them know you share these concerns in all of your communications. Greet them by asking sincerely how they’re doing, and let them know that you’re taking safety extremely seriously.
  2. What you’re doing to protect them. Communicate your procedure for keeping the office clean, for keeping patients at a safe “social distance”, and how you’re staying on top of CDC and local government guidelines.
  3. What to do if they are sick or were exposed. Explain that you are not seeing high-risk patients (those who are sick, have specific symptoms, have traveled to high-risk areas, or have been exposed). Instead, ask them to call to reschedule their appointment.
  4. How to reach you. Whether you’re open or closed, patients will still have questions. How can they reach you for different requests?
  5. What to expect. Give them a sense of how long it will take before they hear from you, whether there are longer wait times, and why. Most patients will be understanding if you set realistic expectations for them.

Remember: When this crisis is over, who do you think your patients will reschedule first? Who do you think they will be loyal to? The practice that called them personally to make sure they’re all right? Or the one that went silently dark and didn’t answer their phones?

So, how are you going to stay in touch with these patients?

How are you going to make sure that new patients calling your office reach you?

There are simple software solutions available that allow you to communicate with patients easily and quickly–you can look at their information and click-to-call or text them back immediately. With this, easy-to-use software, you can improve communications during this crisis and deal with patient concerns in a timely manner. If you have a MedPB website, you already have this software.

Just ask us how to set it up.

How to Handle Patient Communications If Your Community Is “Shelter in Place”

Whatever you do, don’t just go dark.

When patients feel isolated, cut off from their support network–including practitioners–they really need a heartfelt check-in. Now is a good time to call and see how they’re coping.

Even if you’re not set up for telemedicine, there are things you can do to keep the lines of communication open, and that’s particularly important during a shelter-in-place scenario.

Connect with your patients from the comfort of your home (without revealing your home number). Simply access your dashboard and communicate via phone or text while keeping your patient information HIPAA compliant. If you’re a MedPB client, you already have the tools to facilitate this while keeping patient information private and secure. (Psst…schedule a call with your Practice Advisor if you need help getting set up.)

Set a goal to respond to patient calls and texts within an hour during business hours and the next day for messages that come in after that.

Remember that some patients are experiencing a lot of stress, and sometimes negativity is contagious. If you find yourself feeling stressed too, take a break between calls so you’re patient, calm and focused on the next patient’s needs.

Once you handle the immediate callers, go through your patient database to see what patients were supposed to come in. Call each patient for a check-in:

  • Express your wishes that they are healthy.
  • Ask how they are coping.
  • Say you noticed they were supposed to come in, and is there anything you can do while they wait for the office to reopen.
  • Tentatively schedule them for a visit, acknowledging you may need to push it out again if the quarantine period lasts longer, but that you want to make sure they’re at the front of the line when you expect to open.

Then look back at your database. Who should have scheduled a visit, but didn’t? Who’s due for a checkup, or follow up visit? Who hasn’t seen you in the last year? A personal call to check in with them is also in order.

These are just a few of the ways you can communicate and stay in contact with patients while you’re closed.

Looking for more ideas to stay proactive while you’re closed? We have 3 client tools and 4 more ideas. Set up a call and let’s talk.