Healthcare has faced its biggest challenge in the past nine months—COVID-19. The average loss of revenue for healthcare organizations for 2020 is nearly 40 percent. Read this article for suggestions from healthcare leaders and other experts to get ideas for managing change and how to better engage and care for patients.
Table of contents
Innovative ideas to serve and engage with patients
Managing change and crisis
Healthcare has faced its biggest challenge in the past nine months—COVID-19. The impact is being felt far and wide, as tens of thousands of people continue to test positive and hundreds lose their lives every day, and everyone waits for a vaccine. Healthcare organizations are struggling with huge financial losses while they do their best to care for and educate patients. The average loss of revenue for healthcare organizations for 2020 is nearly 40%.
We’ve compiled this guide of suggestions from healthcare leaders and other experts to give ideas for managing change and crisis and how to better engage and care for patients during this difficult time.
Innovative ideas to serve and engage with patients
1. We are offering patient/parent webinars on hot topics, such as navigating COVID and Children, Behavioral Health, Asthma Education, Newborn Basics, to continue to be their trusted resource. – Leslie Baker, executive vice president of operations, Allied Physicians Group
2. In a recent blog post, I shared my thoughts around a new COVID questionnaire shared by OpenNotes in a recent paper they published. I was able to use this new questionnaire recently for my own telehealth visit and found it very helpful. – Dave deBronkart (e-Patient Dave), founding co-chair, HL7® Patient Empowerment Workgroup, co-founder and chair emeritus, Society for Participatory Medicine
3. Review canceled appointments (including those from the spring), and proactively reach out to patients to reschedule. Patients may not realize you’ve returned to seeing patients, and even if they do, your communication about the missed appointment conveys that you care. – Elizabeth W. Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, speaker, author & trainer, Woodcock & Associates, founder & executive director, Patient Access Collaborative
4. Healthcare providers have been very innovative during COVID-19. I interviewed one practice manager who set up a camper in the parking lot so providers could isolate and treat symptomatic patients there. Some practices have split their schedules so providers only see symptomatic patients during certain hours of the workday. Others have designated certain office locations as respiratory clinics. – Lisa A. Eramo, MA, freelance healthcare writer & editor, Lisa A. Eramo Writing Services, Inc.
5. Use two-way text to create “park and text” waiting room
As COVID-19 continues to impact communities, many facilities are reopening. To support the safety of patients and staff, organizations need to use new tools and strategies to support social distancing. One way to do this is to eliminate the in-office waiting room and ask patients to “park & text” or wait outside and text. This process is easy to set up and support.
- Let patients know upon scheduling that your waiting room is closed and they should wait outside—ideally in a line that is marked for social distancing—or in their car. They should text on arrival.
- Include pre-visit instructions in appointment reminders that patients should wait outside or in their cars and text on arrival.
- If patients don’t confirm appointments, consider reaching out via two-way text to confirm and remind them to text on arrival.
- Put a sign up on the entrance reminding patients to text upon arrival and wait outside or in their car.
- Once patients text, if you are checking temperatures or doing a pre-screening, have a staff member go out to the car to perform that check.
- When the provider is ready to see the patient, text the patient to come in.
To further support social distancing and remove other activities that can spread germs, consider adding digital intake forms with a COVID pre-screening form and a mobile bill pay option for collecting co-pays before appointments and other due amounts afterward. That way patients can have additional screening and no one has to pass around clipboards or devices during the appointment. – Lea Chatham, director of content marketing, SR Health by Solutiuonreach
6-10. Here are five tips from Grace Cordovano to engage patients in their care:
- Use telemedicine to consult with not only the patient but also other specialists that are part of the patient’s care team, especially when handling medication adjustments.
- Give patients a copy of their bloodwork, imaging, test results to review and keep; bonus points for sharing your screen during a virtual encounter to review results.
- Provide patients and families with access to https:// www.opennotes.org/
- Provide patients and their families with information on how to access their medical records.
- Give providers and office staff credible information to dispel misinformation about HIPAA to drive stronger patient access by sharing the AMA’s Patient Access Playbook.
11. Customize pre-visit instructions
With the addition of strategies like park and text and telehealth visits, pre-visit instructions have taken on a new level of importance. Patients not only need to know when their appointments are but whether they are in-person or remote, where to wait, how to access video, and more. Also, COVID pre-screening is critical to everyone’s safety. Pre-visit instructions allow organizations to provide all this information (i.e., if you are having symptoms of COVID-19 please call before your appointment, park and text us upon your arrival, here is the link to join your telehealth appointment, etc.). The ability to customize timing is also critical. For telehealth visits, it’s ideal to have a message that goes out a few minutes ahead with links and instructions. – Justin Everette, vice president of marketing, SR Health by Solutionreach
12. Curbside pickup Some organizations are offering curbside pickup for medical devices. The patient schedules a time for the pickup. They text on arrival and a staff person comes out with the device and related paperwork. It’s all done from the car with masks on and then the patient is on their way. – Jeff Gladnick, founder & CEO, Great Dental Websites
13. Your Google My Business (GMB) profile has options to update your practice’s COVID-related news. Make sure you fill out your COVID updates on the “Posts” section, include a link from the “Info” section that directs users to your COVID-related procedures webpage, and adjust your temporary hours as things change. Change these sections as often as necessary to keep Google, and patients, well informed. – Jeff Gladnick, founder & CEO, Great Dental Websites
Managing change and crisis
14. Be transparent and cooperate with a lot of people. If you try to do it on your own you’ll fail, but if you’re open and work as a team you’ll succeed. – Marc Probst, former CIO, Intermountain Healthcare
15. Do a virtual social hour to retain your culture. Respect, integrity, compassion, humility, and empathy are our core values and have been crucial to navigating the effects of the pandemic. – Leslie Baker, executive vice president of operations, Allied Physicians Group
16. COVID change is an opportunity for border change COVID is forcing us to change many things. Whether it’s the shift to telehealth or the move to virtual check-in. One hack is to leverage these change opportunities to embrace broader change, new technology, or a new approach. Don’t overstep too far or you’ll get blowback, but don’t let this crisis go to waste. As you change for COVID, think about what else you could change at the same time to benefit your organization. – John Lynn, Healthcare IT Today
17. Use your email reply to post standard FAQs. For example, if you’re in charge of technology for your practice, post the common responses to questions from colleagues; if you have a patient-facing email address, post the common responses to questions from patients. The automatic reply will be sent anyway; it’s a great opportunity to communicate. – Elizabeth W. Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, speaker, author & trainer, Woodcock & Associates, founder & executive director, Patient Access Collaborative
18. The best investment you can make is an investment in your team. With meetings and live events being canceled due to COVID, more offices are seeing that online education is not only easy to access but very successful in helping train and grow their team. Taking advantage of online education has been a gamechanger for those practices that are doing well and should continue to be included in the future of their education options for their team to grow and learn. – Laura Nelson, business unit leader, Front Office Rocks
19. In large group practices, they are breaking into two or three “teams” that come in at different hours. For instance, one “team” is 7:00 a.m. – 1:00, the next “team” at 2:00 – 7:00 p.m. This preserves their ability to keep the office open in the event a doctor or team member becomes COVID positive. – Virginia Moore, consultant, and speaker, Moore Practice Success
20. Grow your digital health maturity Many organizations have begrudgingly started to use digital health in response to demands and expectations. The best organizations, however, leverage digital health solutions to move from “supported” to “strategic” or even “transformative”—where digital health is used to reinvent the organization from the ground up. – Christian Milaster, founder & president, Ingenium Digital Health Advisors
Source: SR Health by Solutionreach