The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has generated a significant amount of unease throughout the United States. As the national and global numbers of confirmed cases continue to increase, it’s more important than ever for healthcare providers to leverage digital tools and platforms to bolster efforts for containment in order to slow the spread of the virus and minimize the number of cases.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. government, and other sources are providing citizens with proper instructions, social media and other digital platforms can spread misleading information that may confuse people and even incite panic.
Preparation Is Necessary
Healthcare providers in the United States must look to other countries to understand how the COVID-19 situation could progress. Health systems in countries like Italy have become strained due to the number of cases, often unable to provide needed care due to limited facilities and/or medical devices.
To ensure this does not happen to the American health system, healthcare providers must do everything they can to properly inform and prepare patients in the event they contract COVID-19. Digital tools and platforms can be leveraged to alleviate any strain put on facilities and ensure everyone receives proper care.
Leverage Digital Tools
Although healthcare providers have already taken several measures to inform and protect communities, the COVID-19 pandemic is still relatively young and is likely to last several months. It’s important to develop communication and support strategies throughout this journey that are timely and transparent.
Here are several examples of tactics and tools that can provide much-needed assistance at this time and down the road:
Websites are one of the first places customers will go when looking to gather information on a topic, so frequent updates directly from a healthcare provider’s homepage can be hugely beneficial. Additionally, providers should build pages dedicated to COVID-19, including FAQs, how to get tested, and how the provider is handling the situation.
- Patient Portals
Patient portals must also be leveraged to keep patients informed and up to date on COVID-19. Much of the same information described above can be utilized by these portals. Patient portals can even make use of alerts or messaging to ensure patients do not miss or ignore important information.
- Telehealth and Chatbots
Providers should take this opportunity to expand and refine telehealth services. The more aware patients are of telehealth services, like patient monitoring and care, the less likely they are to head to a facility and contribute to overcrowding.
Chatbots can also serve an important function during this difficult time. They can be used to answer frequently asked questions and determine the proper level of treatment needed on a case by case basis. Pairing chatbots with symptom checkers and other tools can make them even more useful for handling COVID-19 cases.
- Mobile Apps
Since mobile devices are more common than ever, having a mobile app can be extremely useful during a pandemic like this. They can be used to provide digestible amounts of information with links to full articles, and notifications can be used to ensure patients have real-time updates on COVID-19.
The above tools and tactics mostly rely on patients seeking information from healthcare providers, but what about patients who don’t visit your website or speak to a chatbot? Any digital strategy for COVID-19 must also include messaging to clients, like text messages, emails, and social media posts.
Providers can push information and updates to patients to ensure they are informed and understand what to do if they start to exhibit symptoms.
During a pandemic like COVID-19, it’s vital to use every tool and resource available to limit the spread of the virus and ensure positive outcomes. As the situation continues to develop, healthcare providers and others in the industry must leverage these tools to ensure the virus is successfully contained.