It’s time to update your patients and potential patients on what’s going on with your office. We’ve all been getting plenty of reassurances from brands, big and small, about the “unprecedented times” and that “we’re in this together.” This is not what your patients want to see when they check your site for information. Here’s what they want to know:
- Are you open?
- Do you have modified hours?
- If you are open, what services are you providing?
- How do you plan to provide services safely?
- Do you offer “curbside service”?
They want the information spelled out in detail, don’t leave them guessing. They want to know what to do if they plan to schedule an appointment with you or plan to come in for an already-scheduled appointment. So tell them.
If your office is opening and operating, let them know. Tell them if you’re open for normal business hours (and list them right there) or let them know if you’re operating on a limited schedule. I would suggest open practices split their announcement into 3 separate sections:
- What to Expect When Scheduling Appointments: Let your patients know what they should expect while scheduling appointments. If you are spacing out appointments to thoroughly disinfect patient-areas in between or to accommodate an increase in curbside service, tell them. Tell them to anticipate limited availability of appointments for the foreseeable future, so they aren’t shocked when you have to schedule them in for June or July.
- What to Expect When Coming in for an Appointment: Tell customers exactly what you would like them to do when they come to your office. Do they walk right in? Should they call when they arrive? Are you limiting the capacity of your waiting room to 1 person at a time? Should patients wait in their cars until you are ready for them? Make your current appointment protocol very clear. This helps mitigate confusion and frustration for the patient if things have changed in your office.
- What to Expect during Telehealth and Curbside Service: I think you can see the pattern above, but I’ll say it again. If you’re offering curbside and telehealth services, let your patients know what to do when they request and receive these services. Should they call in and schedule a curbside drop-off or pick-up? Are you holding certain hours that people can come to do curbside services? Should they call when they arrive or will you be watching for them? For Telehelath services, do they need certain equipment, like a smartphone or computer to receive these services? Will you call them or do they have to log in to something? What should they expect?
Closed Offices or Offices with a Tentative Open Date
If your office is closed because of a mandatory state order, let your patients know that you are complying with the order and will work with them to address their needs and concerns any way you can. Let them know they can still reach out to you with questions or problems they’re having with their hearing aids or hearing. But you can also tell them you are limited in your options to help, and list their options.
The same goes for offices that are closed voluntarily. Let them know you made the decision to close for the health and safety of your patients and staff, but that you are here for those who are having issues in any way you are able and willing to help. Then tell them how you are able to assist them during your closure.
If you have a tentative start date, let them know. If you are moving appointments as necessary, tell them if they should expect a call from you rescheduling an approaching appointment or if they should call to reschedule. If you are still taking new appointments, let them know and tell them if they should anticipate a longer wait for an appointment if you have a backlog.
The main lesson here is: let them know. Tell your patients what’s going on in your office and what they should expect every step of the way so there is no confusion.
These really are uncertain times for everyone. With so much change happening at once, it can make people hesitant and frustrated with further disruptions to normal routines. Setting clear expectations for their call, visit, or service right from the start makes these necessary changes in your office protocol easier for them to navigate. And if patients know exactly what to expect, they are more willing to come in for their appointment or service.
If you’d like to add, change, or update the COVID-19 announcement on your website, please send me your announcement. We’ll make sure the announcement is posted or linked on every page.