The Patient Will See You Now is a 2016 book by Eric Topol, MD predicting a technology-driven, patient-centered revolution in health care where the patient has more control. Dr. Topol has been made a soothsayer by COVID-19, which has given patients a taste of the changes that technology has already enabled. Patients are now hungry for more. However, while the pandemic has led to a certain degree of mistrust in our health care system, surveys show that the public still has faith in business, including their local providers. “My doctor” is still highly valued by most people. At the same time, patients have shifted away from being reliant on a professional and immediately seeking their assistance. They now become empowered with more knowledge and questions first, so they can have a more informed conversation with their provider.
Practices willing to make it easier for patients to play a more active role in their own care will thrive in this new environment. Here are some steps you can take now to empower your patients and reinforce the trust they have in you:
- Provide quality patient education on your website and social media – today’s patient craves knowledge to help them make their own decisions about care. In all of your communication, be careful to use language that patients understand.
- Post your COVID-19 protocols on your website.
- Provide as much information (examination records, prescriptions, etc.) as possible on your HIPAA-compliant patient portal.
- Consider QR codes in your optical allowing patients to easily access more information and comparison shop features and benefits of individual frame lines.
- Institute a “hybrid” care model – In addition to in-person appointments, provide options for telehealth, even if only for problem-focused and follow-up appointments.
- Allow patients to book appointments online for the type of appointments they want.
- Find out patients’ desired mode of communication from your office and use that. Strongly consider SAAS platforms such as Demand Force, Solution Reach, etc.
- Move patients through the office efficiently – don’t waste their time. Allowing patients to fill out forms online in advance will also help here.
- At-home diagnostic equipment can increase data points to improve care while requiring fewer in-person visits.
- Provide an option for virtual frame try-ons both online and in your optical.
- Keep patients updated on the status of their orders.
Another element of trust today is based on societal issues. More people are patronizing those businesses that show support for causes they believe in themselves. They want trusted businesses to take action for change since they perceive the government as ineffective.. Consider getting involved in local issues, such as providing access to the underserved, as another means of reinforcing trust in your practice. The environment is another important concern for most patients. Show that you care by offering environmentally friendly eyewear as an option and participating in recycling programs such as Bausch & Lomb’s One By One program.