Inform, reassure, and reduce anxiety during COVID-19

By Brian Ward

Here are areas where your facility can work to ease patients’ safety concerns during the pandemic. They come from Colleen McCrory, MBA, FACHE, a coach in Huron’s Studer Group advisory firm with 19 years of experience in healthcare leadership and coaching.

  • Safety: Show patients that your hospital or clinic is a safe place. What measures have you enacted to make your safe facility even safer?
  • Continuity: Show patients that your hospital will continue to treat them with the same thoughtful, quality care they received before COVID-19.
  • Access: Make getting an appointment and being seen quickly a priority. Also remind patients that if they need emergency medical care that’s not related to COVID-19, your emergency department is open and they should come in. “An unfortunate byproduct of COVID is that patients are avoiding or delaying emergency care for life-threatening conditions like heart attack, stroke, infections, [and] respiratory failure,” says McCrory. Use screening processes at on-site entry points as a way to keep people safe. This is a visible sign that you’re taking extra efforts to maintain patient safety, which can help alleviate anxiety.
  • Prevention: Adhere to the basics to maintain health and well-being in your facility—social distancing, face masks and personal protective equipment, and hand hygiene.
  • Flexibility: Healthcare providers can safely and effectively care for patients in new ways with the use of simple (phone) and next-level technology (virtual video).

“Given the evolving nature of this virus, information and guidance will change based on evidence, trials, and experience,” says McCrory. “Know that recommendations and guidance will therefore evolve and healthcare providers will provide practice and care at the highest level to keep you healthy and safe.”

Note: This article appears as a sidebar in our recent Patient Safety Monitor Journal article Money woes and distance: Patient stressors during the COVID-19 era