Most practices rely on phone calls and emails to handle patient inquiries. But as emergency cases rise, phone calls don’t allow you to quickly chat with a large volume of clients. Bottlenecks mean patients go on hold, and your whole process gets backed up. Meanwhile, emailing can be slow, and inboxes fill up fast, creating a yarn-ball of messages with little organization. To solve this, practices should adopt communication software that gives them more ways to contact patients, as well as a way to conveniently manage all of their messages in one place. With these tools, patients can text you, use a webchat app on your home page, or even reach out to you via a chat window on Facebook. This helps eliminate slowdown associated with using a limited number of communication channels, and also allows you to bring all messages into one pane of glass, which can be managed more efficiently, even as patient inquiries increase.
With new ways to communicate, practices should next determine what criteria a patient should meet before they come in for an appointment. Remember, though everyone deserves care, you must focus care on patients who can’t recover at home. So, begin by understanding a patient’s age and symptoms. Find out whether they’re concerned they have symptoms related to COVID-19, or whether it’s something else. Be sure your staff understands what to ask so your practice is sure that new appointments coming in are focused on those needing the most urgent care. After that, schedule their appointment, and be sure to flag them if care providers must take extra steps in dealing with their case.
Your practice should set up a “remote waiting room” if they haven’t already. With this strategy, you’ll instruct patients to wait in their vehicles when they arrive at your office for an appointment. Once there, they can call or text you to let you know they’ve arrived. You can call or text them back when it’s time for them to come in. This lets you keep waiting rooms empty and ensures that patients only come in contact with care providers, not other patients that could potentially be carrying a virus.
Most businesses have sent all but essential staff to work from home. That’s not an option for most of your staff, but your team can perform certain communication tasks (calling, texting, etc.) remotely using the right software. This lets you reduce risks for at least a portion of your workforce, which can ultimately help slow the spread and keep staff healthy. As you think about moving communication methods off-site, consider whether the office staff you have now can keep up with a huge influx of inquiries. Remember, the right communication tools can dramatically increase the number of patients a single person can effectively pre-screen.
As cases of COVID-19 accelerate, practices must be certain they’re focusing their care on those who need it, which might require phone or online pre-screening and other strategies that help them determine who has the most urgent needs. Take the time today to consider whether the communication tools and processes you have now will be effective for remote patient care and for promoting successful social distancing.
At Swell, we want communication strategies to be one less thing for your practice to worry about. That’s why we’re offering our communications package completely free for 60 days. It lets you text, email, and chat with patients across many platforms, including Facebook and the home page of your website. Reach out to us and we can get you started with no strings attached.