A survey of infectious disease experts found that 73 percent say they believe we will see another wave of COVID-19. You’ll need to prepare for the worst case while you hope for the best. Apply lessons you’ve learned to build your contingency plan.
To ensure the best possible patient communication, and to help you support telehealth visits and get paid, consider these tips:
- Review how you handled things during the first shelter-in-place. Did you have any struggles or weaknesses that you can address and avoid next time?
- Collect feedback from patients about what you did well and what you could improve through a survey.
- Collect feedback from staff across the organization through meetings or surveys as well.
- Create a written plan for exactly how you will manage another shelter-in-place. It should include your plan to ensure you have enough supplies, that you have a telehealth solution in place, how you will support staff with children or aging parents who will need to be home, what you will do if staff become ill, how you will manage testing or treating patients with COVID-19, etc. Be as detailed as possible.
- Implement a patient communication system, if you don’t already have one, with text, email, and voice messaging that allows you to set up the patients’ preference for the method of communication.
- Make sure you can easily turn your automated messages on and off. You may need to quickly cancel a batch of appointments and ensure people aren’t getting reminders as you do so. That includes cancelling or changing things like recall and newsletters as well.
- Use a system that allows you to add telehealth instructions and links in the reminders. Ideally, you have a telehealth solution in place and can quickly move appointments from face-to-face to telehealth and avoid cancelling most appointments.
- Ask your patient communication vendor if they have pre-created newsletters, posters, and forms you can use to communicate with patients.
- Digitize processes to remove paper and support virtual workflow. If you are seeing most patients via telehealth and trying to protect face-to-face patients, you need to eliminate paper for intake/registration, payments, and scheduling.
- Look at how you can support better communication through changes to your website, social media pages, and voicemail messages as well as outbound messaging through text and email.
You may have other areas of concern that come up as you gather feedback from staff and patients. Try to address all potential issues and document your strategies. The more you plan now, the better chance you have being prepared to quickly shift the way your organization engages with patients to continue to provide care and get paid.
For more strategies to repoen and prepare for any future shelter-in-place orders, download the full guide, Reopening Survival Strategies for Hospitals and Health Systems.