Dear Doctor – There is a Simple Reason I am Not Seeing You Yet.

by Joanna Wyganowska, MBA, PMP – VP of Marketing

As we are entering the “new normal”, I am starting to get more and more phone calls, e-mails, and letters reminding me about our family’s missed medical appointments, dentist checkups, vaccinations, etc. I even got a bill from one practice for my missed appointment back in April (and yes, I did call them back but just to let them know that I am going to switch the dentist because of that unwarranted bill).

I know doctors want to see us, and they want to get back to their normal volume of patient visits; however, they are forgetting about telling me one critical thing:
What have they done to keep me safe during my next visit?

I know it might sound trivial, but this is what I am expecting as a consumer – tell me what you have done for me.
Unfortunately, none of the messages and letters I received included a single sentence about how my experience will look post-COVID and what the practice is going to do to protect me and my family from potential exposure.

This is the only reason I am not rescheduling my appointments right now; I am assuming I am not the only one.
So here is a quick list of things you might want to include in your letter, or add to your website, or have your office staff convey when trying to rebook appointments:

Providers and clinicians, too, will see benefits from these powerful tools. Patient wait times and status updates are all driven by location movements and don’t require manual intervention from staff, leaving people free to go about their work while knowing patients and others are getting the information they need. Because of this, the enhanced patient experience comes at no resource cost.

  1. Arrival: What do you expect me to do when I arrive for my appointment?
    Should I text you that I am here? Should I walk inside or stay in my car? Will you take my temperature at the registration? – I want to know.

  2. Visit: How will you ensure that my visit is quick and without necessary delays?
    What are you doing differently? Are you limiting the number of patients you are seeing daily? Have you implemented tools to help you understand and be notified of my wait/idle time? – I want to know.

  3. Safety Measures: What are you doing to keep me safe while I am in your office?
    Will you have masks ready for me or do I need to bring my own? Do you have sanitizing stations available? How do you clean your exam rooms between patients? How do you know which areas of your facility require special cleaning attention due to a high volume of people? – I want to know.

  4. Family Updates: How will you keep my loved-ones informed?
    If a family member drives me to an appointment, how will they know how close I am to ending my appointment? How will they know that I am ready to be picked up? Will they get an automated text message? – I want to know.

  5. Potential Exposure: How are you going to know if I was not exposed?
    If a patient or staff member was diagnosed with COVID19, how will you know if I was exposed directly or indirectly? Will you be able to tell me how long was I in the same place with the infected person, and when? – I want to know.

Am I asking too much? No, I am just asking you to let me know what my “new-normal” patient experience is going to look like and how you are going to keep me safe.

So, before you start calling and texting to schedule my next appointment, sit down and write out your COVID-Safe Environment procedures and let me know about them.

If you see gaps in your processes, please step up your game. There are many tools you can deploy quickly and affordably to make my next visit safer. It is that simple, and it is the only reason I am not seeing you yet.

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