communication during covid-19

Five things leading specialists do to communicate well during Covid-19

When you run your own private practice, communicating well with ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines may have stirred up some emotions in your workplace over the last 18 months. Clear communication is more important than ever for your patients. In this article we go over five ‘digital’ tips that will help you maintain an excellent customer service record.
communication during covid-19

Five things leading specialists do to communicate well during Covid-19

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

May 27, 2021


Kris on communication during covid-19

#1 - Website: Keep it fresh and up-to-date

communication during covid-19 tip #1

When a patient reaches out, it’s often online, doing a Google search to find your website. So remember to keep that first impression clean and smooth. If anything changes around us, make sure you communicate clearly about telehealth alternatives, changes to your opening hours or theatre list, or the mask and distancing rules. The extra effort you make to communicate clearly will pay off because you will support the reputation of your practice as a business.

When we work with specialist doctors, it is interesting to see the success of those who are aware of the experience before a patient sits in the consultation room or has surgery. The time spent on your digital profile is actually relevant because a patient is a consumer and they will evaluate the experience like any other aspect of your service.

communication during covid-19

This medical website has a dedicated Coronavirus Update page. When the COVID-19 situation changes, the practice owner logs in and adapts the information to the new circumstances.

#2 - Spread the word. Hooray, we have tools for that

communication during covid-19 tip #2

I often sense a level of resistance when I speak with specialist doctors. The young generation has embraced Instagram and Facebook. The more senior specialists or surgeons often choose a more sceptical approach. Let me put it in very simple words: social media is nothing but a great tool to spread the word.

Once you realise that a systemised approach to social media helps you connect with your local community, you will get used to the idea. When normal proceedings are disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions, you now have a whole new reason to use social media. Not because it is fancy, but simply because patients might be desperately looking for the latest update. Reliable, recent, and up-to-date information.

Letting people know that you have thought about their perspective makes you human.
Letting patients know that you are aware of the latest restrictions. Even if it is unclear how many new patients you will get by keeping your socials up-to-date, it is an interaction with the community.

The indirect return though is worth considering. Loyal followers add an extra level of trust when they know you communicate well. Loyal followers become lifetime patients in situations where your service has a recurring aspect (obstetrics, orthopaedics, gastroenterology,…). And loyal followers become super-referrers who inject other lifetime patient leads into your practice. Can you see that an afternoon of study into social media usage, all of a sudden produces that extra income for a new boat, your daughter’s uni fees, or extended leave?

#3 - Keep Google Business up-to-date

communication during covid-19 tip #3

I know it’s boring and you might feel an urge to just skip this or forward it to your tech team.
Stay with me. Google Business is your business profile, with Google. It links to your presence on Google Maps. It links to your reviews. It links to basically everything else.

So when your opening hours on Google Business are not up-to-date, two things happen. Your patient gets confused. Google gets confused, because you may have opening hours and contact details on your website that look just a little bit different. And when Google’s algorithm is confused, it translates into lower rankings or less-than-ideal visibility.

So keep your Google Business profile up-to-date, especially when local Covid-19 restrictions are put in place. It’s a given when we work with our customers, but your current agency may not apply the same best practices.

#4 - Make it human: Humans connect with humans

communication during covid-19 tip #4

If ever there was a time to bring the best of yourself to your medical practice and to your work as a specialist doctor, it would be now. The pandemic has impacted our lives – and continues to do so – in so many ways. Even if your practice is doing alright, your patient’s overseas family might not be.

Even if the restrictions you react to, only incur the obligation to wear a mask, you might be talking to people who have a lot more going on in their lives. Customer service, bedside manners, a culture of care…feel free to pick your label. Our daily work with private practices and hospital teams shows a crystal clear conclusion about this area that is often labelled as ‘fluffy’: it makes a difference.

It makes a difference in the bigger scheme of things. Check out reviews doctors get on Google and count the instances where it’s about the procedure, the quality of surgery, the qualifications of a surgeon, or the rehabilitation. Now count the ones that are about the kindness, friendliness, and the care someone received. I rest my case. Make it human, because now is the time to make that difference

#5 - Even if it’s not digital: keep it fresh

communication during covid-19 tip #5

If your rooms still have an old document stating that only travellers from Mainland China should restrain from visiting your clinic…it is time to update your flyers.
Make sure that any printed documents, flyers, or posters you have in your practice are in line with what your website says.

Again, it’s that subtle sign of respect for your patient, showing that you care enough, to replace old information and hang up recent content.

Old information in a waiting room (the poster, or the 2016 issue of Vogue) might trigger a subliminal but not unimportant thought, that maybe this whole practice, including the head surgeon, are a little bit behind and outdated. That’s probably not the message we want to convey.

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