Tips on how to communicate that your clinic is safe
By Carol A. Wilcox
PREFERRED Therapy Providers
COVID-19 has affected healthcare practices in ways that could never have been predicted. Almost overnight, clinic visits dropped to record low numbers as providers struggled to adapt to new ways to safely to treat their patients. As science learns more about the virus and how it spreads, many patients are beginning to return to clinics, but some are still hesitant to do so. According to this resource, safety is the top reason why patients have postponed in-clinic visits, with the population most concerned being patients who are aged 60 years and older.
You’ve put cleaning and safety protocols in place in your clinic: mask wearing is required, temperatures are taken at check-in, COVID patient questionnaires are required prior to treatments, and equipment and surfaces are sanitized after each visit. How you communicate to your patients about the safety protocols you’ve taken is key to assuring them that your clinic is safe to return to. Here are some tips on how to communicate that your clinic is safe:
Reach out. Pull together a list of active patients who have postponed or cancelled in-person clinic visits since the pandemic and reach out to them either by phone, email or a mailer. Describe the protocols you have taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing, and end with a call to action such as “we have convenient clinic appointments available for you this week.”
Use your website. On your website home page, list all the safety precautions you’ve taken for in-clinic visits. Better still, create a short video and upload it to your website. Talk about these protocols and how you and your team are dedicated to maintaining a safe in-clinic environment.
Talk about safety. If a patient calls to schedule, postpone, or even cancel a clinic appointment, use the opportunity to make them aware of your safety protocols. Take every advantage to communicate the precautions you’re taking to keep them safe.
Tell them why. Be prepared to explain to patients why you have certain protocols in place. For example, patients may want to know why your clinic requires a COVID questionnaire or why temperatures are taken. If you expect appointments to be longer due to safety measures, tell them why. Stress to them that these protocols are in place because your priority is their safety.
Offer telehealth. If you can offer telehealth visits to patients who are unable or reluctant to visit your clinic, do so. Explain what treatments can be managed via telehealth and which will be more beneficial in a clinic setting, when they feel comfortable to return. Be available to consult with them if they have concerns. Always mention the safety measures you have in the clinic when they’re ready to come back. Reassurance creates trust.
Shift clinic hours. Consider expanding your hours of operation by closing later in the evening and providing weekend clinic hours. By doing so, you can stagger the number of patients and providers in the clinic at any given time. This could reassure patients that your practice is also taking measures to ensure social distancing.
Out of sight, out of mind. When it comes to patient engagement, now is not the time to slack off. Regular communication is essential to maintain the trust and assurances you need to ensure patients feel they are your top priority when it comes to their health and their safety. Develop a simple communication strategy with different safety protocol messages that you can regularly send to patients via email campaigns, social media channels and mailers.
About the Author:
Carol A. Wilcox is the staff writer and head of marketing communications at PREFERRED Therapy Providers. You can reach Carol here.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.