Life has changed a great deal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although you may still be doing telehealth appointments with some patients or even having limited hours to meet with others, health care is definitely not normal.
Nevertheless, you want to — and should — stay in touch with your current patients.
“Our patients still need us,” says Anissa M. Jones, DC, owner of Total Health Chiropractic and Wellness Center, and the best-selling author of Trauma to Triumph: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting Over. “We should be the lifeline that they deserve during this difficult time.”
Roger Sahoury, founder of Above and Beyond Holistic Wellness and author of the international best seller Gladiators Guide to Corporate Health and Wealth, agrees.
“Be authentic and loving to your patients, who may be scared. Communication is key, and patients need that moment to stop and think about how they are handling the stress of everyday life. Your patients are expecting you to step up and lead them during this time of crisis — not flee,” he says. “Your role is to empower them and care for them as you have taken an oath to do. They are infiltrated with negativity and fear-based news.”
Jones believes that one of the best ways to stay in touch with your patients during COVID-19 is by engaging with them via social media.
“I believe during this time that it is especially important that our patients see a friendly face and hear a familiar voice,” she says. “I also believe that the use of Facebook/Instagram and YouTube sends an incredibly positive message to your patients that you are present and aware of the current situation. I utilize these platforms to do weekly tips and give general advice for coping through this pandemic. We also use traditional methods such as sending friendly text messages.”
In addition, you can also communicate with your patients via email or even a phone call that says you care, says Sahoury.
“Their care is of the utmost importance,” he says. “Keep them abreast of your scheduling status, hours, and changes. Build value for following recommendations and maintaining momentum, and anticipate their knowledge gaps and fill them with relevant content. Stay in touch by engaging and responding to posts and questions, and add content daily, like Q&As and webinars.”
Sahoury also suggests creating a private Facebook forum so that patients can connect with you.
“Be available and stay connected, especially with those who cannot come in,” he says.
You can also send patients personalized video messages with phone apps, suggests Sahoury. Webinars on topics like “Bullet Proof Your Immune System” can be simulcast live on social media platforms. Teaching patients how to get and stay healthy remains in great demand.
Reaching out to patients in all these ways, “empowers, inspires, and connects them with a voice for good in this crisis,” Sahoury says. “People want to be cared for and that matters more. They remember how you make them feel. This will stabilize your practice and create the next bridge, which will reactive them and your patients who have been MIA.”
Jones says that patients also want to get information from their DCs about what they can do in the meantime if they aren’t able to come to your office for a visit.
“Demonstrations via telehealth of stretches and/or exercises are available to help ease a patient’s pain. We also send videos of the exercises to reinforce the online visit,” she says.
“Nutritional guidance and functional health are other avenues in which we can nurture holistic health care with the patient.”
Something that DCs should not do during this time? Fail to stay in touch.
“Your clients are at home, and some are home alone,” Jones says. “Please take the time just to do a wellness check. Call or email to see how they are doing, and let your patients know that you are genuinely concerned for their wellbeing at this time.”
She cautions: “I do not use the opportunity to make a sales pitch. Money is tight for many during the pandemic, as the economy has come to a screeching halt. Let them know that you understand that life as we knew it has changed, and we are adjusting to the change to make sure that our clients still receive the care that they expect and deserve.”