• Pre-Encounter Patient Communication Improves Efficiency and Safety


    You can facilitate your patient check-in prior to the appointment using these four key strategies:

    1. Conduct a screening for possible exposure of illness.
    2. Set expectations for the office visit.
    3. Identify patient safety precautions and office protocols.
    4. Review patient demographic information and history.

    Conduct a screening for possible exposure of illness.

    Patients scheduled for an appointment should be screened prior to the visit for illness and exposure. You can find key questions to ask and develop a script using Academy resources, such as questions you should ask to identify a patient with possible exposure to SARS-COV-2.

    Set expectations for the office visit.

    Office protocols have changed due to COVID-19. It’s important that you communicate these protocol changes in advance with your patients so they understand what to expect the day of their appointment. Your communication plan may include following topics:

    • Describe any changes to the check-in process or location.
    • Notify the patient how the onsite screening process will occur including temperature checks.
    • Instruct the patient regarding your policy on wearing masks in the clinic.
    • Provide any limitations on friends and family at the encounter.
    • Update how your waiting room has been modified, or if waiting will occur in their vehicle.
    • Inform any pre-encounter protocol for handwashing in the exam lane.

    Identify patient safety precautions and office protocols.

    Share a brief overview of office protocols for sterilization, safety and social distancing. If your practice has adjusted schedules to minimize at-risk exposure, then you should describe that process to your patients. Confirm that your practice is following all state and local guidelines for healthcare facilities. Ask your patients if they have questions or concerns regarding these protocols.

    Review patient history and demographic information.

    To reduce patient and staff exposure, obtain history and demographic information during the pre-appointment screening. This may include the following:

    • Reason for visit and chief complaint
    • Updated medications and allergies
    • Review of systems, past, family and social history
    • Update to address or phone number
    • New primary care physician
    • Insurance information