Communicating Through COVID-19: Seven Recommendations for Medical Practices

As medical practices across the country begin to open back up, there is a lot of anxiety and confusion. Many patients, especially those with painful or chronic health conditions, know they need to seek medical care to maintain their health but are fearful to venture out. As a result, communication is more important than ever before. Here are 7 tips to communicate through these challenging times:

  1. Share information in a timely manner. As new policies and procedures are implemented, make sure to immediately educate all of your stakeholders — employees, patients and referring physicians alike.
  2. Always inform your team first. Your staff should be the first to know about any changes and equipped to convey this information to the patients and referring physicians they serve.
  3. Anticipate questions and be prepared with answers. Brainstorm the questions patients are most likely to ask and proactively answer them through a Frequently Asked Questions piece you provide as a resource for your staff and also share via email, your blog, social media and as a flyer in your office. 
  4. Be open to new ideas and responsive to new developments. As things change or new questions arise, brainstorm solutions and provide updates. Touch base with your staff on a regular basis to see if they are encountering any new challenges or questions that should be addressed. This is new to everyone, and tweaks to policies and procedures may be needed along the way.
  5. Be human in your communication. Involve your staff in making calls to personally reach out to patients and referral sources. Check in and ask how they are doing and inform them about how your practice is currently operating. Consider having one of your physicians do a video message welcoming patients back, explaining new protocols and reassuring patients that their health and safety is the top priority. This can be shared on your web site and social media. 
  6. Be specific. You know your speciality and any concerns that may be unique to the procedures you perform and the patients you serve. Walk in the shoes of your patients and their caregivers, and address those things that may worry them most.
  7. Stay connected. I prefer the term physical distancing to social distancing. Loneliness was already an issue in our society, and is now at an all-time high. Continue to find unique ways to reach out and stay connected with your patients, especially those who are more isolated because they are elderly or high-risk. A simple note card with a thoughtful, caring or encouraging message can brighten someone’s day and strengthen connections with your practice.