And other considerations for patient engagement post COVID-19
While many physician offices remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all have shifted the vast majority of their patient appointments to Telehealth in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. But not every specialty or medical need lends itself well to Telehealth, sometimes patients need to see their providers in person, and when they do they’ll have a heightened sense of safety.
We’ve been talking with physicians as they look forward to treating patients in their offices again and are making arrangements to do so under new precautions, policies, and procedures. Providers are rethinking how they take patient histories, insurance cards, ID’s, and more and they do we anticipate that asking patients to share devices, clipboards, pens, paper, or other materials will be met with resistance as patients take extra care to protect themselves and their families from the spread of germs and viruses. This kiosk is dead and new strategies are in order.
Empowering patients to use their own devices has been at the heart of Relatient’s patient engagement strategies since our beginning, long before COVID-19 was on the radar. Kiosks lack both the ease and privacy that patients’ personal mobile devices offer. Kiosks also force a delay in registration, trapping patients into filling out forms at the time of the appointment and forcing providers and their staff to forego the opportunity to reduce patient wait times and obtain and verify patient histories and payer information prior to the appointment. The added risk of spreading COVID-19 and other viruses between patients may just be the final nail in the coffin for kiosks.
But it isn’t just kiosks. As medical practices get back up and running after coronavirus restrictions are lifted, they’ll be incorporating new considerations for keeping patients safe long-term and leveraging patient engagement software to communicate these changes. Appointment reminders, broadcast messaging, and two-way chat will be pivotal in communicating new procedures for visiting a provider in-office, like:
- Requiring patients to wear a mask to the office/clinic
- New check-in procedures like virtual check-in and requesting that patients wait in their vehicles until their providers are ready to see them instead of a traditional waiting room
- Using newly established entrances and exits for well vs. sick visits
- Policies for reporting COVID-19 symptoms prior to arrival
Likewise, patient engagement solutions like online scheduling and digital patient intake will be key to supporting new Telehealth initiatives as patients will expect these options to remain in place long-term. In a recent webinar poll, we asked participants how they expect Telehealth to factor into their practices after COVID-19, over half the group expects a minimum of 20-50% of their patient appointments to take place via Telehealth.