5 key rules for healthcare communications as COVID-19 continues
Thursday, July 16, 2020
You're no doubt seeking to communicate accurately and compassionately as our country continues to deal with COVID-19. Your goals are clear: you need to message appropriately about the resources your hospital or healthcare organization can realistically offer your patients. You need to let your patients know your services are safe and easily accessible.
You also need to be crystal clear about how your operations are proceeding if updates and changes need to be addressed. How do you implement the right process to achieve these key measures? Use the following five crucial rules to do this. By paying attention to these points, you'll provide your patients with the facts, reassurance, and adjustments they need. It's vital that you:
Evaluate and scale your telehealth services according to current conditions.
According to information from Healthgrades, it’s essential for your patients to understand telehealth providers’ capacity to fulfill demand or those patients will shift to other providers very quickly at this time.
Break down the areas of your organizational services that are fully staffed and running smoothly, and honestly and accurately ID the areas of your service that need improvement quickly when it comes to virtual visits, ask-a-nurse services, and coordinated patient portals. Make sure your patients can access remote care as quickly and completely as possible, first and foremost.
Plus, monitor your telehealth system on a frequent basis to make sure there are no glitches, and that operations are flexible enough to be amped up or pulled back as conditions in your area may warrant.
Be explicit about safety.
In all your brand messaging on social media platforms and on your website, outline in detail what COVID-19 safety measures are being taken on-site at your practices and hospitals to ensure needed in-person treatment is safe.
Also, clearly outline what is expected of patients coming to your facility, such as mandatory masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing. You want to answer any safety question your patients may think of before they even think of it. Ease their minds and provide them with the details they need upfront.
Beef up your online health content.
According to Forum for Healthcare Strategists, the demand for online health content has been growing for years.
Many organizations have understandably cut back on content due to financial restrictions during the pandemic, but think of ways to add to your database inexpensively — maybe by cross-referencing more information with trusted medical sites. For example, you can link patients to Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, the CDC, and your local health department. Setting up specific sections on your website for COVID-19 updates is also a must.
Keeping all website operational details current.
Referral MD stresses the necessity of updating your info. The updates you undertake can and should encompass changes in hours, availability of doctors for individual consultations, testing information, and any other shift in policies you may be putting into practice.
This should be done, or at least accuracy-checked, on a daily basis to make sure there is no lag, which is especially important for your patients who may live in a COVID-19 hotspot and need fast, timely resources.
Having a foolproof plan for crisis communication.
Your organization should know how you are going to get immediate alerts and advisories out via your site and platforms. Local TV and radio may also be necessary to communicate to the public.
Then, as conditions warrant, you will be able to address your patients' essential needs in real time. This ensures total continuity of care and will earn your patients’ trust now and for the long haul.
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