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Introducing the “New Normal” at Your Hospital

As your organization transitions back to offering care that’s as close to normal as possible, consider these important factors for the best patient and visitor experience.

From telemedicine strategy to event offerings to everyday safety measures, start talking internally about the “new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As your organization develops new approaches to caring for your patients in the coming weeks and months, consider your website a helpful vehicle to deliver information to your patients, visitors, and community, as well as a way to assure nervous patients that it’s safe to come back for care.

For help getting started, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide for reopening public spaces.

Keep Telemedicine Available

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported an increased use of telemedicine services during the pandemic. One leading telemedicine provider, Teledoc Health, reported a 50% increase in visit volume in March, with more than half being first-time users.

Telemedicine isn’t only a helpful alternative during outbreaks of illness, but also an accessible option for patients who don’t have reliable transportation, physical disabilities, or face other barriers that make it hard to visit your facilities for in-person care.

After the pandemic, telemedicine may become a staple to keep in touch with your patients on a regular basis, whether it’s for urgent care or post-surgery follow-ups.

How You Can Support Telemedicine

Conversations about this service are likely ongoing in your organization, but it’s important that any changes to telemedicine offerings are communicated clearly on your website, so patients know:

  • Which service lines offer telemedicine
  • When telemedicine is a good option for care
  • How to make a telemedicine appointment and what technology they need
  • How to prepare for a successful virtual visit, such as choosing a quiet room with good lighting

If telemedicine becomes a regular part of your service offerings, be sure it’s represented as a service line. Likewise, link to your telemedicine page on service lines that offer it as an alternative.

Continue Offering Online Classes

Like telemedicine, there is room to continue to reach people with technology, and this includes your classes and events.

Your organization might have already moved some of your classes and events online; don’t shy away from keeping online options after the pandemic.

(If you haven’t moved classes and events online yet, learn how birth care classes are a great place to start for online event offerings.)

How You Can Support Online Events

If you have online classes, follow up with participants to learn about their experience. Consider a survey that asks:

  • What did they like most?
  • What was challenging?
  • How was the online experience?
  • What was the experience of registering like?
  • How did they learn about the class?

For some service-specific classes, ask participants if they hope to have a procedure, treatment, or service at your organization to learn about their path to care.

This gives you an opportunity to improve your user experience for future online classes, and also review the viability of online events being a permanent offering. The benefit? You can get more participants, more registrants, and reach more people from the comfort of their homes. You might also reveal opportunities for:

  • Revising website copy to better explain how to access online events
  • Adjustments to promotion strategies for online events
  • Measuring, reporting, and improving ROI for online classes

Reimagine Your Clinic Spaces

It’s standard practice to keep your clinic spaces safe by disinfecting surfaces and community spaces, but in what other ways does the “new normal” change your waiting rooms?

Most waiting rooms have chairs and tables close together. But, as your facilities open back up to a more typical number of in-person visits, separating chairs by 6 feet or more – per social distancing guidelines – might mean you have reduced waiting room capacity.

How You Can Support Clinic Safety

You’ll want to communicate these changes to facilities clearly on your location profiles. This helps set expectations for patients about what to expect, should they need in-person treatment.

As you return to normal operations, it might be necessary for patients and guests to use protective equipment and materials. If so, be clear about these changes on your website and in your patient communication. Before visiting your facilities, patients and guests need to know if they’ll have to use:

  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubber gloves

As your facilities welcome more in-person visits, you may also implement or continue the practice of temperature checks for health and safety. Let patients know if this is something required before their visit.

Share this information in your website’s patient and visitor section and location profiles, email marketing, and patient portal communications.

For more tips on preparing patients and visitors, see the American Academy of Family Physicians’ physician offices checklist.

Communicate With Vendors, Too

You’ll want to evaluate the vendor visit requirements, too. The pandemic likely changed the number of vendors you allowed on campuses. As your facilities open up to business-as-normal, let your vendors and partners know if there are permanent changes and requirements for on-campus visits.

Share Giving Opportunities and Protocols

During the pandemic, your community members and neighbors supported you and your staff. They also sought ways to help support you, whether through sewing face masks or sending food and meals to front-line staff.

From volunteers to blood donors, you have many people looking to assist your organization. Consider what information they need to know – especially for protocols that have changed.

For example, perhaps you’ve changed your:

  • In-kind material donation rules. Are there restrictions on what you can accept? Are there new requirements before someone donates? Should donations be sent to a new location?
  • Blood donation process. Are temperature checks required for blood donors? Have you changed the location of your blood donation services?
  • Volunteer opportunities. Where can volunteers be most useful after the pandemic? How do you train and prepare new volunteers with the changes in your organization?

Engage All Marketing Channels

Your expertise as a healthcare marketer takes on new value in today’s world. It’s essential to provide next steps and reassurances to patients and guests so they know your staff and facilities are safe places to receive care. Communicate using all your channels and tools, including:

Ask your social followers, email subscribers, and community what questions or concerns weigh on their mind as your hospital services return. This information can help drive content marketing, messaging, and advertising strategies to answer concerns and build a smooth path for hesitant patients to get care.

Ask for Help

Juggling these important updates along with other ongoing marketing projects puts a lot on your plate. If you need a partner to help you organize and strategize your post-pandemic communication, contact Geonetric for help.

You’ll partner with digital marketing experts in healthcare, ready to help you get the most important information to patients when they need it most.

Erin Schroeder

Senior Product Strategist

Introducing the “New Normal” at Your Hospital