What Message Are You Sending Your Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Is it caring or cavalier?

In most states, medical practices have opened back up for routine care during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we’re all familiar with the new standard best practices to reduce risk, some practices are implementing these guidelines more stringently than others. Unfortunately, I have already heard a few horror stories of practices that were so lax with these guidelines that already at-risk patients felt extremely vulnerable and ended up leaving the practice altogether. 

The Patient Experience
I’ve always emphasized that for physicians, your brand is the experience someone has with your practice. And the smallest things often make the biggest difference. Right now that means thinking through every detail of the patient experience to ensure it is safe and promotes caring and trust. It also means thoroughly communicating these expectations to your staff, patients and anyone else who comes into your office. 

Best Practices
Current best practices should include:

  1. Prescreening patients ahead of time — when making appointments, when making reminder calls and when the patient arrives at your office. 
  2. Ensuring EVERYONE in your office wears a mask — staff, patients and caregivers. 
  3. Scheduling appropriately to ensure patients can be socially distanced. Some practices even have patients wait in the car until they are ready to take them back.
  4. Proper cleaning throughout the day after each patient interaction. And don’t worry about patients seeing you do this — it actually inspires confidence. 
  5. Wide availability and use of hand washing and hand sanitizer throughout the practice, including before each interaction with a patient — whether it is completing registration paperwork or preparing for an exam.
  6. Use of gloves by staff. 
  7. Requiring caregivers to wait in the car if the patient does not absolutely need them for communication purposes. 
  8. Offering telehealth visits when appropriate.
  9. Talking to patients about their risks related to the pandemic and listen to their specific concerns and questions. Offer them current information and recommendations based on their condition. 

Every interaction with your patients is an opportunity to build trust and connection. Now more than ever, be sure everyone on your team is making the most of it.