3 Strategies for Reaching Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic overwhelms a doctor with too many phone calls while she tries to reach patients.
Healthcare providers are overwhelmed with high call volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They can’t keep up with increased communication volume and need better strategies to cope.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, US healthcare providers have experienced a staggering increase in patient communications. Appointment cancellations have risen, sometimes as much as 80%, and over 40% of appointments have converted to telehealth. Between this and answering basic patient questions call volume has been at an all-time high.

US Healthcare staffing models are not currently suited to handle this increase in call volume. It has caused dissatisfaction among staff, longer hold times for patients, and more difficult access to care as nearly a third of Americans avoided medical care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reaching patients is more critical than ever. We’ve outlined three strategies for reaching patients when they need it most.

Virtual waiting rooms

Unhappy patients sit in a waiting room due to covid-19 pandemic.
Patients are fearful of waiting rooms because of increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. Providing a touchless, virtual option is a good strategy for both patients and providers.

Providing patients with a touchless experience while they wait lessens fears of transmitting and perpetuating the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual waiting room allows patients to text providers when they arrive and wait safely in their cars while they do intake and wait for their provider to see them.

Strategically using digital applications can help collect necessary intake information from patients in a manner that is convenient to them. This pleases patients and has many added benefits for providers. Collecting insurance and payment information during the check-in process helps streamline processes for office staff. Having this information up front reduces the risk of costly denials and can lead to increased front end collections.

Add telehealth services

A physician working in the U.S. Healthcare system reaches patients through telehealth because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Providers that implement telehealth services are able to connect more safely and easily with their patients.

Implementing telehealth services is a great way to ease patients concerns about contracting COVID-19. Though it was already gaining traction prior, the pandemic made it clear that implementing a telehealth strategy, where possible, is essential. Telehealth strategies have made it possible for providers to see more patients in a safe but effective manner. It provides convenience and accessibility for patients who may have previously been unable to get proper care. This is good for both the patient and provider.

To increase adoption of telehealth, consider utilizing text message and email communications to remind patients of their appointments and provide pre-appointment information.

Digital payment options

Man pays his healthcare bill online to avoid unneacessary contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients want an easy, flexible way to pay their medical bills. Providing an option to pay digitally is a great way to get this process started.

Touchless options for payment are popping up more and more in retail environments. People appreciate being able to use their mobile device to avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding digital payment options is a great way for healthcare practices to alleviate patients concerns while improving revenue.

Having a convenient, easy-to-use system in place gives patients the access they want, which has been shown to increase their overall experience. This in turn increases on-time receivables.

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