Over the past several months, the primary medical concern has been focused on treating patients affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting others from infection over the last several months. During this time, many practices have remained closed or offering limited patient care. The residual effect has left many practices all across the country reporting significant declines in revenues. Equally it has left patients hesitant to seek medical care, especially for non-emergency or routine care. Reopening your medical or dental practice means addressing the needs of your patients. It will require careful and thoughtful planning.
Reopening for Patient Care
Revitalizing your practice will require reassuring patients. Often they will want to know if it’s necessary to visit your office for their non-emergency or routine care.
Returning patients will want to get immediate answers for:
- home care,
- rescheduling their appointment,
- scheduling an in-person or virtual visit,
- or getting instructions for further treatment at an appropriate facility is vital.
Keeping accessible through your office phone number and your website will help your patients navigate their needs during these tough times.
Returning to the Office
Patients have many concerns when returning to a reopening medical practice environment. First and foremost build patient confidence and trust through effective safety measures are being taken. “Customers are going to be demanding not just assumptions of safety but visible steps and measures that companies are taking,” Chloe Demrovsky, CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International, told CNBC.
Clearly communicating the measures taken to keep patients safe is another way to provide assurance. Paint a picture of what your practice is now like with your COVID-19 precautions. Share your details via emails, newsletters, and on your website’s home page.
Implement Important Changes
Many medical and dental practices have modified their patient protocols upon reopening their practice. Most have become universally accepted standards for our current times.
Some Modified Protocols
- Increased Protection Procedures: Detail the efforts you are doing to thoroughly disinfect your waiting, exam, and treatment rooms multiple times a day. The Reception desk should have visible changes, such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes at the front desk. Let them see your cleaning efforts to feel more at ease that you are taking their safety seriously.
- Health Screenings: Screening through appointment confirmation calls and/or providing online forms with questions regarding any known contact with infected COVID-19 cases or symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath are asked. Intake forms can be send via email or downloaded from your website. Some offer the ability to complete their intake forms online. Many use contact-less thermometers to take patients’ temperatures before allowing them to check in as added precautions.
- Social distancing: Staggering appointment to minimize contact in waiting areas, cordon off seats or sections, and marking where to stand if there is someone in front of you will help preserve social distancing measures in typically high traffic areas. Ask or require wearing masks with staff modeling behavior. Hearing impaired patients need to be able to access visual cues, have face shields in your personal protective equipment arsenal for staff.
- Limit Visitors / Non-Patients: Limit companions to patient visits unless the patient needs assistance and isn’t mobile. Consider allowing alternative forms of contact, such as FaceTime or video calling applications for a loved one who may want to ask some questions on their behalf.
- Curbside or Telehealth Services: If troubleshooting can be performed without a face-to-face visit, allow patients to drop off their certain devices, such as hearing aids, at a designated spot to pick them up later when they are ready. A video-based health care visit can be scheduled to provide you with care and information without you leaving your home.
Share the tactics you have implemented through your marketing channels. Helping your patient clarify any doubts will help them seek your assistance when they are ready to resume their non-emergency and routine care.