Get Your Patients Back! Practices Must Communicate with Their Patients

Getting Back to Normal During COVID-19

Getting your practice back to normal in the times of COVID-19 will be a challenge. If you’re ready to invite your patients to come back in, well-planned communications will be the key to success. Almost certainly you need to step up efforts to communicate to your patients and craft an understanding message. 

Depending on your practice, you may be seeing a surge of patients as restrictions ease or you may still have patients reluctant to brave the outing. In either case, your patients need to feel reassured that your top concern is their good health and you are here for them. Patients who are delaying seeking care due to fear of the virus may be putting themselves at more risk than would actually be attributed to COVID.

Not surprisingly, many practitioners admit that they probably didn’t do as much proactive communications with their patients assuring them “that everything was going to be Ok and that they are here for them if they need them.” Those that did are benefiting from the PR effect of that personal extra touch.

“I have had to layoff many of my staff, I’ve been working 16 hour days, and I’m still only seeing ⅓ of my normal daily volume”

One of many similar comments made to Niels Andersen by a MedCV physician network member

Luckily, it’s not too late to get started. Physician practices are beginning to understand that it’s OK to market to current and “prospect” patients. Particularly if the messaging is crafted to be informative and genuine vs. pushy and clearly a sales push. Remember your patients trust and count on you.

We asked Bryan McCall, co-founder of the Duncan McCall Agency, to share his ideas and what they are working on in supporting their physician practice, medical group, and hospital clients.

No One Cares How Much You Know, Until They Know How Much You Care

Theodore Roosevelt

The right message can give them tremendous comfort and feeling that you are there for them and assuring them that everything is going to be OK. “Other Key points to communicate include the measures you’re taking to prevent the spread of infections. Patients will feel safer knowing you are committed to taking all the safety precautions they need. But don’t just say it, do it.” suggested Byran.

Common recommendations include sanitization efforts in offices, phone screenings of patients before in-person visits, social distancing guidelines in waiting rooms, and mandatory face masks for staff and patients. Highlight even the routine safety measures you’ve always taken — they may not have been noticed before. Present your team as an authoritative voice on public safety.

Bryan shared, “A grocery near me has a person wiping down the shopping carts every time I go in, and I routinely see employees sanitizing some part of the store. It’s what they should be doing, but they are also making sure their customers see them doing it. And it works. I’m more likely to shop there.”

This is also an opportunity to tell them about how it’s been really convenient to do telemedicine, what you have learned, and tell them what to do to get started.

You may need more communication channels now than before the lockdown, but it’s critical to use the tools you have in place to maximum effect. Here are a few tips from Bryan:

  • Add an alert panel or homepage banner on your website for timely content urging patients to resume routine and elective care. Link to a page detailing your safety efforts and it might be a good idea to add pictures or a 1 minute or less video. These days doing a video on your iPhone and pushing it to YouTube couldn’t be easier!
  • Add a FAQ to your website to help people understand what you are doing and what they can do to stay safe. Also consider a video with a high-profile doctor explaining the same.
  • Use social media to promote your procedures and safety tips. Consider paid messages on social media to cut through the clutter.
  • If you have telemedicine or concierge medicine programs, promote them.
  • Use email, direct mail, and your patient portal to deliver customized messages and to invite people back in.

Reach & Frequency – Basically your message needs to Reach the right audience. In this case you need to reach current and prospective patients and don’t forget to communicate with your referral network of referring physicians and possibly businesses. Businesses need their employees and their customers healthy! Then you have to get your message out elegantly and tastefully to that audience several times without being overwhelming, Frequency. Statistically, once a person sees a message 8-9 times, they begin to believe it.

First thing to do is get your patient email list, then use an email marketing platform that’s easy to use. MailChimp and ConstantContact are well known options to consider but if you prefer, MedCV also has an easy to use email marketing companion solution, KiBSender.

email marketing KiBSender Logo

With the right tool, you can literally get started today. Of course we believe our MedCV sister tool, KiBSender, is the fastest and easiest way to create, send, and track your email marketing campaigns. Whatever tool you choose, you need to do everything you can to nurture and strengthen your patient and referral relationships by staying in touch. Combining email and social media initiatives is a very effective way to send relevant tips and practice updates, invitations or special offers.

Let marketing technology tools help you. Tools today are by in large easy and quick to implement, your your staff should be able to do this for you. Also reach out to the hospital you are affiliated with to see what they can and will do for you.

You may be wise to invest in getting the Pro’s to help, the right agency can help you kick-off your initiatives quickly. Especially in this new “re-start” environment of uncertainty for many healthcare providers, there is little experience to draw on. Advice or help from marketing professionals may be worthwhile.

If you do decide to get a little help from an Agency. Make sure they have a proven track record experienced in “healthcare and physician practice marketing” like Duncan McCall. Agencies that know the healthcare space can produce results the fastest and time is money!

Don’t procrastinate! Timing is critical – You need to be the first to get the word out! Every one of your competitors are likely scrambling to get patients back, including targeting your patients!

We at MedCV have had a long successful history of working with with Bryan and Mike (Co-Founders of Duncan McCall) to help us and our physician and hospital clients and we highly recommend you connect with them if you think you could use their help to craft a compelling message and get it in front of your patients immediately. If you are not using email, social media, direct mail, or other channels, they can get you started quickly.

An agency like Duncan McCall can be your communications “Rapid Reaction Team” in this recovery period without distracting your staff from your mission of care.

Contact Bryan to learn how Duncan McCall can help.

Published by Niels Andersen

Founder and CEO of KontactIntelligence, MedCV, VetCV, and VeritasHealthCare. 40 Years in healthcare, 20 years in healthcare tech supporting Government and commercial health systems, physicians, as well as Veterans and their families throughout the US.

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