Just like many businesses across the country, orthopedic, spine, and neuro practices are being affected by the rapid changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While these changes are necessary to stop the spread of the virus, they have drastically changed the way that practices can operate for the time being.
When we first published this blog post, many practices were temporarily closing, and everyone had to halt elective procedures. Now, many practices are reopening (with several precautions to prevent the spread of COVID), and some are even going to be able to resume elective procedures.
This is why it is important to communicate with your patients and keep them updated on what’s happening. Your website is a great place to keep your patients up to date and share any new information you have. Remember, even though you are able to provide care, some patients may still be nervous about going out in public unless absolutely necessary. By keeping your patients updated with detailed information, you can help to ease some of those fears.
Recommendations on how to address these types of updates have changed dramatically over the past month. This is what is currently recommended for practices in addressing COVID-19.
At a minimum, add a banner to your homepage.
At the very least, your practice should be addressing COVID in some manner on your website. While it’s strongly preferred that you add a full page, you should at least add a banner to let current and potential patients know that you are addressing COVID concerns.
A few examples of this include:
Ideally, add a new page detailing your COVID-19 updates and policies.
To really reassure patients that your practice is doing everything possible to keep them protected, we strongly recommend creating a full page about your COVID-19 response. Website banners have limited space, so you won’t be able to provide detailed information there.
The details that you can provide on a full page are what reassure patients that it is safe to make an appointment. Though these are unprecedented times, it is becoming a standard practice for businesses of all types to provide a COVID-19 response page on their website.
Some of our clients have put together detailed FAQ and information pages for their patients and used a similar strategy of placing a callout to the page in the header of their website. Examples can be found at https://www.jamesballardmd.com/news-events/coronavirus-news and https://www.chortho.com/coronavirus.
A few suggestions on what to include on your COVID-19 information page:
- List out exactly what you are doing to protect patients and staff. Don’t just say, “We’re following CDC guidelines.” That doesn’t really mean anything to the patient. Spell out what you are doing, and keep it updated as policies change.
- Let patients know what is expected of them when coming to your office. If you require patients to wear masks, have family members wait in the car, fill out forms ahead of time, etc., make sure you include that information on your website. This way, patients will know exactly what to do when they show up, which will help things run more smoothly.
- Explain what treatment options you can and cannot provide. Some states are reopening for elective procedures, but in others, these procedures are still on hold. Be clear about what you can and cannot do to set appropriate expectations with your patients.
- Explain telehealth options, if available. Some patients will still prefer to stay home, but you may be able to help them via telehealth. If your practice is offering telehealth, there will likely be some limitations. Let patients know what options are available via telehealth.
Link to your COVID page from a prominent place.
Make sure your COVID page is accessible from every page on your site, if possible. This will make it easy for current and prospective patients to find.
Examples of this include adding a button in your header, or linking to your page via a banner:
Create another page detailing your telehealth service, if possible.
If your practice is offering telehealth, you are likely going to get a lot of questions from patients about the specifics of this service and may end up spending a lot of time answering questions about it on the phone. You can alleviate some of that phone time by providing details on your website.
These details might include:
- Information about the telehealth system you use.
- What patients need to do to prepare for a telemedicine appointment. Do they need to download anything ahead of time?
- A list of services offered via telemedicine.
- Information about insurance coverage, if applicable.
If you have a way for patients to request or schedule a telemedicine appointment online, even better!
You can find an example of a telemedicine page at https://www.chortho.com/telehealth.
Like the COVID-19 information, they also added a callout to the telehealth option in the header of their website to draw attention to it.
Add COVID-19 Information to Your Google Listings
Google My Business has recently added a feature where your practice can add a link to its COVID-19 page and telehealth page on your business listings. These links are primarily showing up for mobile users at this time, but will likely expand to desktop, as well.
Here is an example of how these links look:
Having this information readily available from your business listings can help patients feel more confident about booking an appointment. It shows that you are being proactive about preventing the spread of the virus.
Communication is Key
As you can see, there are several different ways to get your message out to patients, regardless of the situation you are facing. We hope these examples will make it a little easier for you to figure out next steps on how to communicate changes to your patients as you navigate these uncertain times.
Here at P3, we have navigated remote work with clients for many years. As a result, we are able to continue to provide online marketing services and advice to practices across the country while our employees stay safe and practice social distancing at home. If you need any advice on how to navigate your online marketing in light of COVID-19, please reach out. We are happy to help!