The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people postpone their healthcare visits out of the fear of infection.
On top of that, due to sparse resources, critical Covid-19 cases caused a reshuffling of medical departments to fight the disease. Non-Covid patients, like those with diabetes and cancer, lost fast access to doctors for regular checkups.
Fast forward to today, healthcare facilities are still facing a lack of visits. So, we’re left with the question – what can we do to encourage more visits? And, once we start bringing in more patients, how to deal with the overflow?
Ways to encourage more patient visits
First, let’s start with some basic things that every aspiring healthcare facility needs to do:
Improve infrastructure and workflows
Check to see if there’s space for improvement. Before you begin encouraging more visits, try to analyze your workflows and infrastructure.
Check if you can improve the patient experience. Streamline the communication with patients and visitors, as well as improve internal processes such as medical record-keeping and shift scheduling.
The most important thing at this stage is realizing where your clinic is losing money and time:
- Are there manual tasks and operations you can digitize?
- Is there space to improve patient communication?
- Can you improve internal communication?
- What marketing strategies and channels can you use to reach patients and visitors?
Dealing with a large patient influx becomes much more manageable if prepared.
Wait until the end of this blog to see how Purple enables hospitals and healthcare facilities to reduce revenue losses and boost the patient experience.
Adopt telehealth practices
According to a recent study, telehealth became a necessity during Covid-19. But it has some downsides. Most notably the quality of care, the accuracy of virtual examination, etc.
Despite the cons, some patients still prefer telehealth services. Especially those in need of regular prescriptions for their chronic illnesses. In cases like these, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to telehealth.
Take advantage of telehealth examinations with patients that can participate and increase the accuracy of appointments attended. Additionally, there are wearables to monitor almost anything these days such as activity tracking, and glucometer, all of which can help patients take control of their own health. See more digital health technology examples here.
If you want to gain an upper hand, mobile clinic investment is another option to consider. This can be a movable tent setup or a van with the necessary equipment to take care of basic medical needs. With mobile facilities, you can provide medical services to rural communities and those without access to nearby medical care. See some examples of mobile clinics.
Educate your patients
Educate your patients on the importance of regular checkups.
Patient education is especially important during and post-pandemic. Covid-19 enforced the need of teaching patients proper self-care at home. Whether it’s related to chronic conditions or overcoming an acute virus.
Many patients still avoid hospital visits due to fear of contracting Covid-19. Find new ways to pay attention to these patients and educate them on the risks vs benefits ratio.
In practice, you can educate your patients by sharing advice through social media. You can also use pamphlets and materials for your patients to read or pick up when they come for a visit. This will definitely help gain trust and improve the overall experience.
First-hand patient data can be used to directly keep patients up to date with everchanging Covid and global health news as well as healthcare facility operations. This can be done by sending emails to patients directly to keep them informed in addition to digital advertisements that can be served to patients, visitors, and even staff as they access venue Guest WiFi.
Optimize the patient journey
Analyze and go over every touchpoint of your patient’s journey. See it as a buyer journey or a customer journey. Try to optimize this experience by simplifying or automating touchpoints that need fixing.
Healthcare CRM helps enhance the patient journey, streamlining and boosting personalization and communication. Additionally, these HCRMs allow you to store and maintain patient files in a centralized database. This minimizes the risk of data loss or theft.
Ways to manage patient overflow
If you do the first half of this guide successfully, you’ll be dealing with a patient overflow in the best-case scenario.
Now, you have to find ways to manage the overflow in your growing healthcare facility:
Ensure staff coverage
Shift coverage is a crucial aspect of managing an overflow of patients in a growing clinic.
Manual shift scheduling might not be the best option. Consider the size of your clinic and patient flow. It can be time-consuming, and the probability of human error and shift overlaps is huge.
Instead, take advantage of shift scheduling software to help you organize staff in a way that gives them enough time to rest.
Improve employees’ work-life balance
Retaining your staff is always crucial in healthcare. Especially when you’re dealing with patient overflow. What you need to look out for are signs of an unhealthy work-life balance in your staff:
- Loss of focus
- Depersonalization and lack of empathy
- A reduced patient care level
- High staff turnover
To tip the scales and improve your staff’s work-life balance, you’ll have to find ways to reduce stress in your clinic. For instance:
- Automate time-consuming tasks
- Schedules with rest days in mind
- Flexible work hours
- Regular employees surveys and check-ins
Use technology and digital solutions
Technology brings many benefits to established and growing practices. It helps automate time-intensive manual tasks, especially in times of overflow. Take a look at how Croydon NHS and VCU Health have taken great steps in healthcare digitalization.
Put in place a digital wayfinding solution to automate the flow of people and reduce the pressure on your staff, improving the overall patient experience. Healthcare facilities can automate patient appointment reminders and provide step-by-step mobile directions to the facility, from their home right to the waiting room with ease.
Digital wayfinding routes help your patients plan their trip, find the best parking spot, the closest entry and exit, and the examination rooms.
To wrap up
Boosting your patient visit count after the initial Covid fears isn’t a mission impossible. It will require some innovation and a proactive approach from your side, but it’s doable. If we had to sum up the best way to encourage more patient visits in one sentence, it would be to gather and analyze data, recognize patient anxieties, and see what your patients want.
But, don’t forget that if you’re successful in your efforts, you might experience a sudden patient overflow. Prepare your healthcare facility for this growth and ensure you have structured workflows in place.
About the author – Brandon Hulme
Brandon is a Product Management Lead at Deputy. Outside of solving businesses’ jobs to be done, he loves heading out for a run or hike, traveling to explore new places and people, and sipping on an espresso.