While your patients may be afraid to come to your practice now, it’s important to recognize that before all this COVID panic started, clinical teams remained among the most trusted in any professional field. A Gallup study in 2019 showed that 85% of Americans rated nurses as having high levels of ethics and honesty. These findings weren’t new, either; Gallup had 18 years of consistent polling data showing nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and psychiatrists remain top of the list for honesty and integrity in the minds of most consumers.
Medical practices seeking ways to market their patient readiness can capitalize on this trend when communicating with their patients and the community they serve.
Patient readiness during COVID-19 requires you to communicate a message of safety in an authentic and meaningful way that matters to your patient. However, you can do this in myriad ways that are effective both from a cost and patient engagement perspective.
Start with your practice website. Place a brightly colored banner at the top that immediately gets the attention of patients. Take the most important questions you repeatedly hear from patients and answer them in an FAQ:
- What are you doing right now to keep your patients safe?
- Do patients have to come to the office for their appointment or do you have telemedicine protocols in place?
- Do office visitors have to wear masks?
- What are the signs of COVID and what should the patient do if they have symptoms?
Create a simple smartphone video to communicate the changes made to your clinical space including the typical experience of a patient in your practice. Place this video on your website and share it in social media channels.
Define in advance how your messaging will emphasize social distancing, mask-wearing, and cleanliness as a standard part of COVID-19 protocols. If your practice has a just-in-time patient rooming system, train your frontline office staff in how to communicate these changes to patients.
Also consider how your messaging will change by audience, including:
- Healthcare decision makers (who may or may not be the patients)
- Referral partners
- Everyone else
Practices that focus on answering the hot button questions of the moment can create their own opportunities to build trust and a sense of safety in their patients. For example, early in the pandemic, patients were concerned about losing their sense of smell and taste. This created a social media and content opportunity for ENTs to answer common questions from their patients. Give consideration to the kinds of questions your patients will ask during cold and flu season, such as, “Can I get COVID and the flu at the same time?” These hot button issues will create new opportunities to engage patients in ways that can be low production and cost but high value to your customers.
Medical practices that focus on communicating safety protocols and preparing their patients for what to expect when visiting their facilities will not fall victim to the 87% of patients who are too fearful of COVID-19 to seek the medical treatment that they need.