At Stericycle, we are beyond proud to work with some of the most innovative health providers in the United States. This year, we had the great honor of seeing how they leveraged our patient engagement solutions to rise to the new requirements of social distancing and contactless patient care. We’ve boiled it down into three key components:
- Continuous Patient Communication
- Virtual Waiting Rooms
- Every Appointment Needs a Schedule
Continuous Patient Communication
Patient communication has always been important to our clients, but COVID-19 presented an entirely new focus on the content, channel, and frequency of the message. In March, we helped health systems notify thousands of patients that their elective procedures had been canceled. By early summer, we were sending reopening and rebooking messages. Through the fall, we supported clients by continually communicating policy and screening changes, and we helped promote flu shot clinics and pop-up testing centers. Most recently, we’ve promoted the rebooking of missed annual exams – helping our clients recoup lost revenue before the end of the year. Unfortunately, we’re once again sending closure and cancelation communications for some of our clients in cities that are the hardest hit with COVID-19 cases. Fortunately, we have also started communicating vaccine announcements and schedules for our clients and their staff.
Although the message has changed many times throughout the year, our Best Practices in Patient Communication During a Pandemic, which we defined in April, continue to stay true. In fact, Forbes just commended the healthcare industry for the regular communication they are sending surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in the article, "Why Business Leaders Should Pay Attention To How Hospitals Rollout The Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign."
Virtual Waiting Rooms:
When the phrase “virtual waiting room” became commonplace this summer, many of our solutions’ experts made comments like “With our InQuicker scheduling platform, we’ve been doing virtual waiting rooms since before they were cool.” It’s true, Stericycle's Intelligent Scheduling solution, built on the InQuicker™ platform, has been delivering virtual waiting rooms to emergency departments for almost a decade. However, before COVID-19 the concept of waiting at home or in your car was mostly built around convenience and a positive patient experience, but the pandemic made it a necessity for safety and peace of mind.
In July, one of our clients was featured in their local news for their use of our Intelligent Scheduling solution. Projected appointment times gave their patients the peace of mind that they needed to get back into the ER after historically low utilization in the spring. We shared that news video in our blog"3 Ways Using A Virtual Waiting Room For ER Appointments Can Ease Anxiety And Help Bring Patients Back."
Another client went as far as designating prime parking spots for their virtual waiting rooms. Without COVID-19 would we have ever seen this concierge service in healthcare? We talked about this evolution in the blog "Changes In Consumer Expectations Affect Healthcare—3 Ways To Adapt To The New Patient Journey."
Every Appointment Needs a Schedule
Scheduling medical appointments online or by voice is one of many solutions we offer at Stericycle Communication Solutions. We are intimately aware of the types of appointments health systems typically schedule and which ones they prefer to run as walk-ins. However, in 2020 we started hearing from departments like labs and imaging more than ever. These appointment types used to run just fine without specific arrival times, but with the need for social distancing and the extra burden on labs due to COVID-19 testing, suddenly these departments were in need of a convenient way to internally schedule appointments and to offer patients a way to self-schedule. With that, the healthcare appointment scheduling landscape quickly changed.
In 2020, we helped clients build schedule programs for everything from routine blood work to COVID-19 testing clinics to internal staff testing. Recently our lab contact at a large health system said “There is no way we could have managed 2020 without your support.” We built this Stericycle Intelligent Scheduling Solution Guide to help every department build a scheduling program that works for them and their patients.
In a recent podcast, "COVID-19: Lessons Learned & How it Will Shape Patient Engagement Forever" our Vice President of Product, Strategy, and GM, Matt Dickson, said, “COVID-19 has taught us that it’s hard to be a health system.” No truer words have been spoken in 2020. We thank our clients for the opportunity to be a partner this year, and we go into 2021 feeling proud to have helped them meet the ever-changing needs in healthcare, including achieving a contactless and socially distanced patient experience.