• Appearance is Everything: Tips for Gaining Patient Confidence During COVID-19 Recovery

    Patients may be concerned about the risk of infection when coming to an in-clinic appointment. Broadly communicating your safety protocols with patients cannot be underestimated. One of the best ways to reassure patients is to communicate what your practice is doing to prevent transmission and to visually demonstrate best practices the moment they enter the practice. This provides security and reassurance for patients and employees alike.

    Here are a few tips to boost patient confidence.

    Tip 1: Develop and implement pre-visit talking points for patients about your safety protocols.

    • Prep your front office staff to answer questions about practice safety protocols when answering calls from patients or family members and when scheduling appointments via the telephone.
    • Post practice safety protocols on your website and other communication channels such as Facebook, etc.
    • If you have an EHR, send secure messages to patients about the steps your practice is taking to keep patients safe.
    • Inform patients beforehand that they are expected to wear a mask and/or will be provided with one if they don’t have one.
    • Notify patients that they will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being escorted to the exam room.

    Tip 2: Visually demonstrate your commitment to patient health and safety.

    • Post CDC or practice signage outlining safety protocols where they are visible to both patients and staff.
    • Display a cleaning schedule in bathrooms to show how often they are sanitized. This also holds staff accountable to maintain cleaning protocols.
    • If electronic options are not available, provide pens for patient signature. Display a jar of clean pens and a separate bin for dirty or used pens to showcase your attention to sanitation.

    Tip 3: Demonstrate your sanitation protocols.

    • Physicians and staff should wash or disinfect hands in front of the patient not outside the exam lane.
    • Ask patients to use hand sanitizers upon arrival at the clinic.
    • Perform temperature checks and provide masks (as needed) upon the patient’s arrival.

    Tip 4: Using the patient’s perspective, go on a “clean” walk, eliminating anything that contributes to potential patient contamination or gives an appearance of uncleanliness.

    • Declutter all surface areas and look for ways to eliminate any non-needed items in the waiting room, front office, and exam rooms. Clean, open surfaces convey efficiency and cleanliness.
    • Brainstorm ways to limit patients handling objects in the office. For example, encourage paperless payment and remove magazines.
    • Streamline your office and exam work areas. This is the time to organize, declutter and store items where they increase patient flow. Explore Lean management to increase efficiency in your practice.
    • Have sanitizers readily accessible for patients in the waiting room and exam room and at the front desk.

    Communicating and demonstrating your safety protocols will go a long way in reassuring patients. As your safety protocols evolve during the recovery process, make sure to update your signage and website information and communicate any safety updates to your patients.

    For more recovery options on practice safety, review Module 5.2 Develop Reopening and Recovery Protocols. This module is a component of the AAOE Reboot Your Practice: Post-COVID-19 Recovery Roadmap for the Ophthalmic Practice.