Caring for your patients during COVID-19
We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, and we want to offer our support and guidance for continuing to provide care for your patients.
What we do now will affect our brands for the next 20 years
—Mark Cuban April 2020
“From beginning to end my consultation was great. Dr. Rand and his assistant were very through and answered all my questions. I plan to have the procedure when the pandemic is over.”
—Internal Consult Alert,
Richard Rand, MD (4.3.2020)
I believe in the axiom, “in crises, there is opportunity…” Virtual appointments (consults and follow-ups) offer an incredible opportunity for our practices to better engage with our patients and prospects. In this crises, our practice teams have the time to develop and perfect virtual appointments.
Because of traffic and parking conditions, our practice, La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre, had already been planning to add virtual consults and follow-ups. In late February, we chose the HIPAA compliant version of Zoom. We accelerated implementation and began virtual consults in early March
Yesterday, we received our first two 5-star consult reviews from RealPatientRatings / Vizium360.
Consultation / New Patient – Breast Augmentation
The doctor answered all my questions without me having to ask. He was detailed and thoroughly explained everything. He understood what I was looking for. We did an online meeting and it went great.
—Review for John Smoot, MD, FACS (4.2.20)
Consultation / New Patient – Mommy Makeover
The doctor was very calming and friendly right away and made me feel very comfortable. This was a video consultation instead in the office, but Dr. Brahme was still able to complete a physical review of my body and made it a comfortable situation. Dr. Brahme answered all of my questions and cleared up any concerns I had going into the meeting.
—Review for Johan Brahme, MD (4.2.20)
In an effort to support our fellow providers, I would like to share our practice’s implementation plan and welcome your thoughts and suggestions.
Preparing for Virtual Appointments
- Announce virtual consult availability with “Coming Soon” messaging and then again upon launch
- Social Media
- Other media, including print
- Add to existing forms of communication
- Auto responders from practice
- Email Signature lines
- Telephone on hold message
- Pay Per Click content
- Contract with HIPPA-compliant virtual meeting provider. While HIPAA regulations are being relaxed, given the investment in the learning curve and technology, try to choose your ultimate provider.
- Create functional capacity to deliver virtual appointments
- Confirm devices to be used have camera/webcam capability
- Add software to iPads/desktops of all providers and staff who will participate in these consults
- Practice with individual teams including MD, Nurse and PC
- Require a password for individual patient meetings
- Create new virtual appointment types in your PM software
- Consider your need for data to evaluate the effectiveness of these new appointment types. Depending upon the options, you might set up these consults as occurring in a different location, apparently, it’s an 11 location code. Or, if you have the ability to add a field and sort by Virtual appointment types, then that could enable you to analyze effectiveness going forward
- Gather patient feedback: continue your existing protocols for patient feedback including ratings and reviews to validate quality for internal use and to get content for marketing about patient satisfaction with these appointment types
Training Your Team
- Create scripts for office staff about how to explain the offerings and check to be sure your guidelines are being followed and patients are hearing the same messages from everyone
- Define the virtual appointments just as you would an office appointment, i.e., a chaperone MUST be present. Depending on the type of appointment and your normal protocols, that might be a patient coordinator for consults and a nurse for follow-ups
- Practice the meeting technology with offsite staff from the various locations which will be included, i.e., office, providers’ homes, staff homes. We are offering completely virtual (all participants are virtual) and some blended (MD, Nurse or PC is in the office, but the patient and another practice participant are remote)
Delivering Great Virtual Appointments
- Communicate, confirm, etc. for virtual appointments just as you would for an onsite appointment. If the patient has a concern about using the technology, then practice with the patient in advance so the appointment can occur on time
- Offer options to the patient for “Meet and Greet” or a virtual consult with examination
- Follow up as usual. If your PC is usually in your consults, then she should be part of virtual consults. She should follow up with her normal protocols, i.e., calls, emails, texts, written notes
- Amend language on your fee quotes. When you provide a quote, make sure that you note this is an “estimate” subject to change upon actual physical examination
- Refine your protocols and make changes to improve quality
We hope you find these examples and recommendations helpful during COVID-19 and beyond. We’re here to support you and your practice, so please let us know how we can help.