Planning doesn’t work like it used to. The pandemic has prompted us to live more in the present. In some ways, this has been an unexpected blessing. In other ways, this makes our jobs as family members and business leaders difficult.
My wife and I are expecting a baby boy in November. I can’t put in words how excited we are to meet him. We wonder out loud what kind of an older sister our daughter will be. (We think she will be amazing, ha, of course we do!) Their age gap will be about two years.
When we were expecting Norah’s birth in 2018, we made a lot of plans. Giving birth comes with enormous uncertainty: timing, baby and mama’s health, and many other variables. These uncertainties take on new life today. We find ourselves spending less time thinking about the things that consumed us leading up to Norah’s birth. Instead, we wonder what the hospital will be like and how and when family will be able to visit.
Making plans? Forget it. Too much uncertainty. Guidelines and regulations seem to be changing as often as weather in the mountain west (for those unfamiliar: often). Any effort spent planning out December and January would likely be a colossal waste of time and emotional energy.
Most prenatal appointments have been virtual, with the aid of an at-home fetal doppler monitor. There is something wonderful about receiving medical care in the comfort of our own home. Video chat, bolstered by pre and post-appointment communication have been essential. We have been prepared at any point to flip these appointments from virtual to in-person should the need arise.
Let me offer a thought. The only planning that counts is planning that prepares you to be more nimble in a changing environment.
The key to being nimble? Communication.
This has been the most rewarding part of working with our hospital and health system clients over the past several months. Our most forward-thinking clients recognize that with a real-time patient communication strategy, they can deliver top quality care during the pandemic. Some examples from recent conversations:
- Will the next appointment be virtual or in-person? Not sure yet, but we will figure it out together. Great communication.
- What safety protocol should I expect when I arrive at the clinic next week? You will likely wait in your car and we will text when we are ready for you. If anything changes, we will let you know. Great communication.
- Does insurance cover this? Not sure yet, but we will get to the bottom of it together. Great communication.
- Which doctor will be on call that day? Not sure yet, we will let you know. Great communication.
- Can my spouse come to the appointment with me? As of now, only the patient is allowed in the exam room, but we can loop in your spouse on video chat. Great communication.
With great communication, we can do this. Not only can we manage our operations as the ground shifts beneath us (table stakes), we can help each other—as humans—navigate the uncertainty in an uplifting way (audacious). Now is not the time to design and deploy elaborate workflows that can accommodate any eventuality.
Today calls for agility, through communication and collaboration.
For more tips on how to create the best patient communication during COVID and beyond, download this complete guide to patient communication during COVID.