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5 Patient Engagement Strategies to Slow the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

5 Patient Engagement Strategies to Slow the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The novel coronavirus is past the point of containment. All efforts are now focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19. Experts say, “flattening the curve,” gives our nation the best chance to slow the spread, save lives and keep the healthcare system from buckling. In this post, I will share five patient engagement strategies that healthcare providers can deploy to slow the spread of this infectious disease. 

But first, some numbers:

Numbers to Notice

The Shortage – the United States has:

The Risk – worst case if we don’t slow the spread of the disease:

  • Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. are projected to become infected by COVID-19 (CDC)
  • 2.4 million to 21 million people are projected to require hospitalization (CDC)
  • 200,000 to 1.7 million could be killed by the novel coronavirus (CDC)

Even if only a fraction of people projected to fall ill from COVID-19 get sick, it’s a problem.  There’s a huge difference between 200,000 people getting sick eventually and 200,000 people getting sick all at once. And, that’s why we all need to work together to “flatten the curve.”

Flattening the curve gives our nation the best chance to slow the spread.

Flattening the COVID-19 Curve

According to infectious disease expert Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, when people who don’t realize they have contracted COVID-19 go about their daily lives rather than stay isolated, the virus transmits from person to person in communities, with more and more cases reported each day. The quicker and higher the numbers rise, the more likely the outbreak will overwhelm the healthcare system and become harder to control.

For patients with an acute case of COVID-19, this is a life or death situation. If hospitals become overwhelmed with infected patients, there will likely be a ventilator shortage.  If that happens, there will be some tough decisions to make regarding which patients have access to a ventilator and which patients won’t. The good news?  According to Bonnie Maldonado, an infectious disease expert at Stanford University,

“three to four days of intervention can make a big difference between a flattened epidemic and a peaked one.”

Here’s a video clip of the news segment:

Patient Communications Strategies To Help Flatten the Curve

A little communication from a trusted healthcare provider can go a long way towards flattening the curve.  Healthcare providers are trying to balance treating patients with slowing the spread of COVID-19.

To help healthcare providers get important communications out to patients across the nation, Luma Health has prepared a COVID-19 Best Practices Guide for communicating with patients during the outbreak.

Here’s a quick preview of five patient engagement strategies included in the guide that healthcare providers can deploy to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

1. Keep communications clear and simple. Many Luma Health customers are using our Broadcast product to share information about COVID-19, evolving office policies, prevention strategies, and when to schedule an appointment to see a doctor.  To ensure healthcare providers across the nation can effectively communicate with patients during this pandemic, we’ve made our Broadcast product available at no cost to any clinic or health system through April 15. This tool can ingest a list of patients from your EHR. Implementation takes less than a day and you will be able to send messages to your patients immediately.

2. Engage high-risk patients. Patients with chronic conditions, those who suffer from immunosuppression, and anyone 60 years of age or older need to be made aware of the fact that they are at greater risk should they become infected with COVID-19. They also need to be informed of the additional precautions required of them during the outbreak. Luma Health’s Total Engagement Platform™ enables healthcare providers to build logic into messaging templates for clinical workflows.

For example, you can identify patients with high-risk conditions and automatically send tailored messaging to each subset of patients.

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

“{{if patient.diagnosis == xxx}} {{patient.name}}, given your history, you are at higher risk of getting a complication if you were to get sick with the novel coronavirus. We recommend you take extra precautions during the outbreak by doing your utmost to avoid contact with others. Please click here for more details.”

Here’s a look at some simple patient engagement campaigns that promote essential care and high-dollar procedures to help fill both care gaps and revenue gaps.

3. Digitize Patient Screenings. Use a Luma Health online survey to help screen patients and reduce call volumes. Patient surveys are completely customizable and can be adjusted as your screening needs change.  View a sample COVID-19 patient screening survey here.

When you digitize patient screenings, a simple text message is all that’s needed to screen patients.

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

“You are living in a high-risk area for the novel coronavirus. To help us take better care of you and prevent unnecessary complications, please fill out this short questionnaire.”

4. Consider telehealth visits. Telemedicine is an effective way to keep patients with moderate symptoms at home and get those who require hospitalization the care they need quickly.  Use Luma Health’s Collaboration Hub to coordinate on-demand telehealth visits.

For symptomatic patients who may have COVID-19, or patients with a high-risk profile for experiencing complications from the disease, Luma Health is offering free, on-demand telehealth services leveraging Cisco WebEx. Luma Health will set up the templates and create dedicated visit rooms to facilitate the interaction. To drive ultimate access, these interactions will not require the installation of any software for the providers or patients. Schedule a demo to see how it works.

In the meantime, you can view the workflow in our previous post, “COVID-19 Coronavirus: Best Practices for Patient Communication & Prevention.” 

5. Engage with quarantined patients. Luma Health’s Mobile Patient Intake can be used to automate regular check-ins with patients infected with COVID-19, asking them questions to determine whether symptoms are progressing. Using this approach to engage with quarantined patients can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, while ensuring patients who need acute care are triaged quickly.

Patient questionnaires can be automatically shared with patients via text messaging. Patient responses are automatically sorted and prioritized by Luma Health’s Total Patient Engagement Platform™, with responses requiring attention tagged for clinic staff to triage.

For more templates and best practices, read the COVID-19 Best Practices Guide. And remember, one of the simplest and most effective ways to communicate with patients is via text message.  According to CTIA 2019 industry data, 93 percent of consumers believe wireless messaging is a trusted communications environment. When it comes to patient communications not only is texting a trusted form of communication, it is also proven to work. In fact, Luma Health recently released a trend report titled, “Patient Engagement in 2020.” Check it out.

In the meantime, stay safe and stay healthy.

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