While manufacturers such as Pfizer have noted significant successes in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and other healthcare institutions continue to adapt to the disruption. The current health crisis has caught everyone off guard. However, despite its massive economic and social implications, the global healthcare industry remains active in addressing serious concerns other than COVID-19. Communication plays a vital role in this current climate as healthcare institutions struggle with maintaining cohesion.
These are difficult times, but the best way for healthcare providers to navigate present challenges is to build trust, filter out bad information, and provide accurate and actionable data that helps patients make better decisions and improves outcomes. With that being said, what are key players in the healthcare industry doing to communicate with patients and provide them with accurate information?
Providing real-time information on available hours.
Clinics may not be able to operate at full capacity, and most hospitals may not accommodate more patients due to the influx of COVID-19 cases. Providing instant information regarding available hours is important in this time when large volumes of appointments flood hospital queues.
This requires an effective notification system, informing patients about available times and days for consultation. Hospitals and individual practitioners may need to update their available hours on their social media profiles on LinkedIn or Facebook as well as their websites.
In cases that necessitate a temporary pause in accepting new patients, email and SMS notifications can be sent out. Real-time information helps patients make better decisions in seeking out quality care in the midst of a pandemic.
Walking through patients on other options.
It’s one thing to inform patients about available hours, but it’s still important to walk them through choosing their next decisions. During this time, finding a hospital accommodating non-COVID patients could be difficult. Most hospitals have placed a cap on the number of admissions due to the increasing risk of COVID-19 infections.
When this happens, hospitals will need to refer patients to healthcare facilities that are less saturated by COVID-19 cases. Using the right appointment setting software, they can let patients know if their appointments are cancelled and arrange for a transfer.
Besides this, there is also the need to inform patients about other ways they can get diagnosed without the need of a physical appointment. While online medical consultations aren’t new to the healthcare industry, the demand for these has become even more pronounced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. High-risk patients (especially the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions) can benefit a lot from being offered telemedicine or virtual appointments with healthcare practitioners.
Outsourcing contact centers.
Requests for appointments as well as inquiries from existing patients can overwhelm a clinic or hospital, leading to longer wait times and a reduction in overall efficiency. Medical institutions will have to augment their patient management capabilities by hiring third-party customer service providers.
Opting for a medical answering service and hiring medical appointment setters can help resolve issues, keep an organization from being inundated by requests, and help practitioners focus on priority cases. The demand for such third-party services will continue to increase as additional cases keep pouring in. It’s only a question of knowing whether a service provider has the right tools and expertise to handle specific inquiries and requests from patients.
If an ENT clinic decides to hire a contact center, it pays to know if a contractor has any active experience working with practitioners and institutions in such a specific field. What’s more, it is also important to know if the service provider is familiar with local service areas. A hospital in Upstate New York should also work with a contact center that knows the local populace well.
Aside from patient communication, outsourcing can also help in handling medical coding, medical billing and other time-consuming activities. Organizations need their workforce to focus on more important matters involving patient outreach, so getting help with routine communications optimizes efficiency.
Using automation for managing patient engagements.
In recent years, automation has impacted patient engagement. Databases are managed more effectively using up-to-date information while key decisions are supported by accurate data picked out and analyzed by AI-run systems.
Such technology will surely come full circle as entire healthcare systems across the globe continue to battle continuous waves of COVID-19 infections. In effect, the demand for software that specifically caters to hospital management has been rising. In fact, the market for this type of software solution is expected to grow as hospitals seek better bed management, inventory management, and patient tracking features.
At the same time, patient engagement software is undergoing constant improvement. There is a need to align such tools with the challenges brought by the current health crisis, so hospitals are investing in software that makes seamless and value-based interactions possible.
Sure enough, there is a considerable number of cloud-based software that are capable of providing reminders to patients and facilitating self-care across multiple communication channels, whether through SMS, email, or even social media.
Effective patient communication even during the post-COVID world will rely on software that helps hospitals handle the needs of patients remotely without sacrificing efficiency.
Fighting back against misinformation.
There is no telling when exactly the pandemic will end, but ever since it started earlier this year, speculations and false news have flooded social media, creating an environment of mistrust. This has also led to widespread protocol violations as well as increases in the infection rate and hospital overwhelm.
Effective patient engagement begins with trust and being able to provide patients with accurate information and debunk misleading claims about COVID-19 provides for better outcomes. Along these lines, healthcare providers should stay engaged with patients and ensure the availability of resources that can help with making evidence-based decisions.
During these challenging times, communication is vital in order for healthcare providers to secure better outcomes for patients. This pandemic will not be the last health crisis we will have to overcome, but it definitely helps us realize the importance of being constantly engaged with practitioners.