Looking back on the last few months, it is incredible how fast healthcare providers have shifted their strategies to meet the needs of their patients, staff, and communities throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Amid the uncertainty, one thing has remained constant — the rapid pace of change.
In a recent article in MedCity News, Dr. Graham Gardner asserts that healthcare systems with a robust digital communication strategy have been best positioned to minimize confusion among their patients during the pandemic, and ensure that they are routed to the right resources. In addition to helping patients with questions about COVID-19, these organizations are also best positioned to provide continued care to patients with other conditions.
Will Patients Return for Elective Procedures?
What is worrisome is that some patients remain cautious about going to the hospital for anything non-COVID-19. Since the onset of the crisis, some hospitals have noted that women who had screening mammograms that came back positive were reluctant to schedule their diagnostic mammograms. This finding is concerning as these patients are typically the most active to seek follow-up care.
This statistic hits home for me as if it wasn’t for my mother’s meticulous attention to her preventive screening appointments, and quick follow up, it’s likely that she would not be here today. Thankfully, as states reopen and elective procedures resume, more people in need of follow up care will be encouraged by their hospitals to schedule these appointments.
Perhaps equally as worrisome on the provider side, is that many hospitals have invested heavily over the last few months for an influx of coronavirus cases that never came. While this of course is good news for population health, it is discouraging news for the balance sheets of health systems, one of which estimates their “costs associated with Covid-19 treatment, at about $202.6 billion so far” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Digital Communication is Key
It’s paramount that healthcare systems find ways to ensure their populations still get the care they need as soon as possible, and that they begin measures to maximize revenue opportunities moving forward. Those with a robust digital communications strategy are best positioned to do this. A digital communication that spans the continuum of care and allows providers to triage patients to the right care setting and level of care will be key to optimizing processes. Those that rely on traditional, manual efforts will continue to find themselves struggling to reach enough patients and collect meaningful data to drive improvement.
Robust digital communication strategies are more than a quick fix to address a single problem. They offer a means of communicating with patients and their families, educating your entire community, and keeping your staff and sites safe throughout.
Moving Quickly is Essential
I have been truly inspired by how fast our team has moved to help our customers expand their digital strategies and help keep communities, patients, and their families informed and empowered throughout this crisis. As hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices begin to resume appointments and elective procedures, now is the time to implement technologies that help augment communication efforts and ensure your teams have the data necessary to reach and follow up on patients in need of non-COVID-19 care.
To learn how you can help encourage patients t o schedule and attend their appointments, I invite you to sign up for our new webinar series, Roadmap to Recovery. Our May 28th webinar will feature CipherHealth’s VP of Clinical Services, Lyndsey Lord, who will share specific action items you can take to manage the clinical and operational impact of deferred elective procedures by addressing the most common communication gaps.
There may only be a limited window of time in which to get patients the care they need, depending on their condition. Implementing digital communication strategies that are proven to reach patients at various stages of care is key to adapting to the current crisis — and also being prepared for the next one.