At the moment, we find ourselves at a unique place and time as it relates to COVID-19. This is also a unique time in how to communicate with patients.
Being over a month into the pandemic at this point here in the United States, there isn’t much to be said about the Coronavirus that hasn’t already been stated.
However, from the perspective of most patients, the future is about as clear as mud. And this is an opportunity for you as their doctor to step in and provide helpful guidance. Not necessarily about COVID-19, but how it impacts them now and will going forward.
Set Expectations About The Present
We know that people are searching online with questions about even being able to get in to see or scheduling an appointment with their doctor.
In the way of addressing their questions and adding value, it’s helpful to think through some of the questions you’ve already been asked, or are even asking yourself:
- Are you currently seeing patients? And if so, in what capacity?
- What do the federal and state guidelines say about your ability to see/treat patients now?
- What is an urgent appointment?
- What is non-urgent?
- Can appointments be scheduled for the future currently?
There are many more depending on your specialty, but that’s a helpful place to start.
Also, include what to do and where to go in the event of a more urgent need.
Set Expectations About The Future
Most specialties, as you know, have reduced office visits, elective surgeries, etc… Yet there comes the point when these will all need to be rescheduled. Patients understandable have a lot of questions surrounding this.
- How will missed visits/surgeries be made up?
- Will patients be prioritized when things open up, and if so, what are the criteria?
- When can new patients schedule appointments?
You might not have all the answers yourself at this point, but providing some guidance to your patients based upon what you do know can go a long way.
If you perform surgery, this is another critical topic to address, as most elective surgeries have been postponed. What can or should they expect in the coming weeks and months?
Even addressing what is considered “elective” surgery would be beneficial. Most people tend to think the operation they need is not elective, even if by definition it is.
Present An Optimistic Viewpoint
For most people at this point, there is still a high level of fear and doubt about the future. The news media is doing a great job of putting folks in that state already, and they don’t need it from anyone else.
This too shall pass, and what most patients want to know is that at some point, they will be taken care of and get their medical needs met.
By reassuring folks of this, you can build their confidence and trust.
Ask For Patience And Understanding
The truth is, these are unprecedented times, and you’re navigating through it just like anyone else. Most people understand and are sympathetic to this, but this can serve to be a good reminder.
At this point, we don’t know how much longer things will be mostly shut down. But the truth is that the need for patience and understanding when things open up will be just as great, if not greater than it is today.
At the risk of sounding opportunistic, let me encourage you to see this COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the other healthcare professionals in your competing market.
One of the best ways to do that is by being the one who is actively communicating with your current had potential new patients.