Helping healthcare businesses adjust to COVID-19

If you are a healthcare provider or allied health professional, you are probably wondering how your business can continue to support and assist the community while mitigating the spread of the virus at this time. 

Throughout this current situation, there is a lot of unease and uncertainty, particularly for healthcare providers who are on the front lines. We want to give you some ideas and tools to enable you to keep yourselves and your community safe, while still allowing you to provide the same level of care and comfort to your patients in a virtual or remote setting.

Innovation is important at a time like this, and we have defined three different technology-enabled improvements you can make in your business to help you continue to deliver services as safely as possible.

  1. Telehealth Setup 

Setting up systems to enable your staff to do consultations with patients or clients remotely will minimise the risk of infection for both parties, and is particularly important if you work with vulnerable people such as the elderly.

Setting up telehealth for your business could include setting up video conferencing systems, updating your appointment booking system, and enabling online purchasing of products or services. 

Video conferencing systems such as Google Meet allow your staff to meet with clients online, instead of face to face. Having a robust video conferencing system also means you might want to update your appointment booking systems to let clients choose between video and face to face. Some types of services or some patients may really need an in-person consultation, whereas others may strongly prefer videoconference. For example, at-risk patients or clients can choose to remain in the comfort of their own home, while low risk patients can meet you in person if preferred. Or, you can switch some types of services to videoconference (e.g. mental health consultations) while other appointments continue to be done in person (e.g. appointments that require a physical examination).

If your website does not currently have ecommerce online payments functionality, you may want to include one at this time to allow patients or clients to renew prescriptions or buy complementary products without coming into your office or clinic. 

Some examples of how different types of healthcare providers can support their community while keeping them safe:

  1. Central Clinic in Warragul has updated their website to allow patients to renew their subscription online. Subscriptions can then be mailed out to the patient directly without them having to come into the clinic. This enables their patients to still have access to their own medical needs, without taking risks with their own health or the health of others. 
  2. As an allied health professional, you could sell massage balls and devices or supplements online to support your patients if they cannot see you in person, and switch to providing remote consultations where you train your clients on exercises, stretches or self-massage techniques remotely. This lets you still provide support to at-risk patients who need to self-isolate to stay safe, and reduces your own chances of infection.
  1. Admin Automation 

Automation of some key elements of your business can assist in reducing the workload of your support staff over this time. 

Your administration staff are likely experiencing a backlog of work and constant phone calls. By alleviating some of this pressure, they can be better equipped to support your healthcare provider staff, and to assist your business to deal with this crisis at this time. 

Some improvements you could consider implementing within your business include automated appointment bookings (and cancellations) on your website, pop-ups with COVID-19 service updates and information on your website, a Frequently Asked Questions section on the homepage of your site, which can help patients answer common questions like your business opening hours and any changes to services without having to call your team, and setting up email newsletter automation through Mailchimp so your staff can send out updates to your clients automatically, thus streamlining their workload with communicating any business changes at this time. 

These improvements to your systems can assist your business and reduce the workload of your administration staff, so their time can be spent providing quality care and service to your patients and clientele. 

By improving booking systems and information updates on your website, this will reduce patient phone calls. A FAQ section on your website homepage with common questions about your business such as opening hours, bookings and your appointment cancelation policy, will ensure your patients can easily find the information they are looking for. Newsletter automation also allows you to quickly and easily send out updated information as changes arise, without the risk of missing patients.  

For example, Central Clinic had their website upgraded to include a FAQ on the home page, carefully designed navigation to make it easy for patients to find information, online appointment bookings and prescription renewals, and Google Translate to enable patients with language difficulties to make their own bookings online. After these changes, over 60% of new patients now book their first appointment online, and most patients go to the website to find information rather than calling the clinic. This has freed up admin staff capacity to assist patients, support doctors, and manage the rapidly changing situation. 

  1. Diversifying income streams and service delivery

You don’t have to feel stuck if you run a business which primarily relies on face to face delivery. With some creative thinking and innovation, you can offer your services remotely via video conferencing.

As an example, if you’re a massage therapist and your current business relies on in-person service delivery, you could switch to offering online consultations on self massage and stretches that your patients can use in the safety and comfort of their own homes. This lets you continue to provide services to help your patients through this time, without putting yourself or your patients at risk. You could also sell complementary products such as massage balls, foam rollers and heat packs via an online ecommerce store instead of in your physical office, and provide training by videoconference on how to use these products for your patients. 

If you are a psychologist or counsellor, you can work remotely with your clients via videoconferencing. Another revenue stream you could explore is online group coaching, which would make your services more readily available to those who may not have been able to afford them previously, and who may be particularly in need of your services during this difficult time. 

Or perhaps you are a yoga instructor – in that case, you can perform yoga classes and meditation classes online. Fern and Frost offer their yoga classes through a Facebook group, with yoga classes being streamed virtually through Facebook Live videos. They also sell additional products online which can support their clients to relax, unwind and rejuvenate in stressful situations.

Healthcare providers are going to be critical to weathering this epidemic, and as people who are constantly meeting with patients, they are particularly at risk. We want to do everything we can to support healthcare providers to still be able to provide vital services, while minimising the risk to themselves and their clients. We have a range of services that can assist your business in continuing to deliver services through this time, and our team can happily advise you on how you could innovate and continue to deliver services in today’s circumstances. 

While this time can prove difficult for your business, understand that you are not alone, and that there are some fantastic options you can consider when transitioning to remote work.

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