As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated in March 2020 and the need for reliable and effective patient-provider communication became more important than ever, was your patient communication what it needed to be? Or were there some unfortunate holes in your strategy that need to be fixed now before a second wave of COVID rears its head?
When reflecting on faults in their patient communication tools while dealing with the COVID pandemic, healthcare organizations have expressed disappointment in seven key areas. We’ve listed each area here along with questions to ask yourself to see if this issue also affects your organization:
- Do your current tools offer enough self-service? An ever-changing environment means you need the flexibility to quickly create and adjust messaging without your vendor’s help. Ask yourself: If I need an adjustment to my current messaging, how long will it take the vendor to implement that for me? Will that response time change during future high COVID communication activity?
- Is there attentive guidance and support when you do need it? When self-service isn’t a reasonable option, experienced guidance and prompt support prevent holes in communication with patients. Ask yourself: Is my vendor proactively suggesting effective communication strategies and tactics? Can I get dedicated and prompt attention to my account when the need arises?
- Can patients text back and forth with providers and staff? Two-way texting gives patients a way to connect without tying up phone lines and introduces new opportunities to safely manage appointment flow. Ask yourself: Are patients often calling with routine questions that could be answered more quickly and easily via text? Can patients get the immediate support they need for telehealth questions or issues?
- Are your solutions flexible enough to support telehealth visits? Telehealth is part of the “new normal'' in healthcare delivery, and communication platforms that fail to support telehealth and its associated workflows simply are not feasible going forward. Ask yourself: How am I getting telehealth visit links and instructions into patients’ hands today? Do I need to work with multiple vendors to provide telehealth services?
- Can you survey patients before and after appointments? Pre-visit surveys allow you to assess patients in case special precautions are needed, while post-visit surveys are ideal for collecting patient satisfaction data. Ask yourself: Am I currently able to assess patients ahead of their visit? How am I gathering data after visits to find opportunities to improve patient satisfaction?
- Do your tools solve for challenges with patient intake and registration? Shifting to touchless intake processes can reduce spread of germs and overall waiting room time in the office. Ask yourself: Despite other sanitation measures, are patients sharing clipboards to complete forms upon arrival? Does my current communication vendor offer a solution for this?
- Is messaging capacity a major concern for future needs. In the rush to get important COVID communication from providers to their patients, organizations should feel secure that messages will be sent in a timely manner. Ask yourself: If another wave of COVID comes, will your patient messages be “stuck in line” behind others? What impact will that delay have on your appointment schedules, patient satisfaction, and more?
For more insights on why these issues matter and other questions to ask, download the full guide on the COVID Communication Collapse.