Three: Make patients feel comfortable seeking care
Many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of leaving home, especially to go to a doctor’s office. Therefore, to get them to reschedule canceled appointments, it’s important to ease those fears. One way to do that is by offering virtual visits. Seizing opportunities to convert some of your in-office appointments to telehealth virtual visits helps reduce risks of COVID-19 exposures for both patients and staff.
If patients do need to be seen in your clinic, you can encourage them to complete intake forms and pay co-payments digitally to minimize exchanges between patients and reception staff.
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Houston-based endocrinologist Medhavi Jogi, M.D. is working to remove any reason for patients to talk to someone at the front desk by collecting information – for example, COVID screening, co-pay payment and insurance information – online in advance of appointments. His practice uses a telehealth tool that enables staff to interact via text message so patients can alert the front desk of their arrival at the clinic. When rooms are full, a patient is given a period of time when they can return, and like many restaurants, they receive a text when it's time to come back for their in-person visit.
Four: Communicate conveniently and efficiently
If you are like most offices around the country, your phones are ringing off the hook as patients call to reschedule, ask questions related to their health and inquire about COVID-19 policies (among other things). One way to manage the overwhelm staff is experiencing – and increase patient engagement and satisfaction – is by adopting text messaging as one way to communicate with patients. Many patients actually prefer texting for its convenience. It allows them to get in touch with your clinic without long hold times, and fits into most people’s existing communications process. Think about how many times a person picks up the phone to call someone versus to send a text message.
There are countless ways you can use text messages to drive efficiency — from appointment reminder text messages to sharing educational information about managing chronic disease. Texting will play an important role in the future of healthcare communication; embracing it now is a step in the right direction.
As we all know, the effects of COVID-19 on healthcare will be felt long after clinics reopen. While the new normal is still being defined, there are sizable financial obstacles providers must overcome. Rather than reacting to what comes next, clinics that have a strategic plan in place to help recover lost revenue will be in a solid position to bounce back faster. These steps aren’t the sole path to getting there, but they are solid and proven actions that lead to increased patient engagement and more consistent revenue.