Recommendations for Communicating with Your Patients Remotely

While Americans have been separated from so many aspects of their normal lives during COVID-19, they absolutely can remain connected to their healthcare professionals. In fact, patients want to hear from their clinicians1 – and communicating with your patients can not only strengthen your relationship over the long term, it can inspire them to pursue needed care that they otherwise might defer.1

Knowing the importance of the continuum of care, a survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Johnson & Johsnon Medical Devices Companies, from July 9-13, 2020 among 2,016 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Here are some of the most relevant findings:

  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans surveyed (17%) say that a personal call from their doctor would make them more confident in pursuing an elective surgery or medical procedure during COVID-19.1
  • More than four-fifths of Americans surveyed who discussed telehealth options with a healthcare professional during the time of COVID-19 (81%) say they would be comfortable using telehealth to manage their care.1
  • And nearly half of Americans surveyed who discussed telehealth options with a healthcare professional due to COVID-19 (47%) would be more likely to schedule a surgery or medical procedure if telehealth were an option before or after the procedure.1

Now more than ever, communication is the key to care. Regardless of the channel – phone call, video chat, email – the following principles from the American Academy of Family Physicians can help you effectively communicate with patients and help them protect their health and continue their care through the pandemic.

Close up of a senior woman consulting with her doctor in the office

Connect:

  • Smile. When you call a patient, it can help to take a deep breath and smile — even if they can’t see you.2
  • Acknowledge. Talk about COVID. Invite your patient to share frustrations, fears or concerns.2

Understand:

  • Set the agenda with your patient. Just like an in-office visit, engage the patient to prioritize their health concerns and questions.2
  • Teach back. The summary and teach-back are critical to ensure you understand your patient and they understand your recommendations.2

Educate:

  • Be brief and memorable. Educational discussions over the phone or telehealth should be kept brief. Follow up by asking the patient questions to help them understand and remember the information.2
  • Be a resource. Offer educational materials from reputable sources on the importance of handwashing, physical distancing, or mask wearing.2

Empower:

  • Reassure. Remind the patient that they can call with questions or concerns about COVID any time.2
  • Activate. Let the patient know they can follow up via the portal and help them take charge of their online health profile.2

References

1. Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies Elective Surgery Survey. Accessed August 4, 2020. About the Survey: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of DePuy Synthes from July 9-13, 2020 among 2,016 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. (CLICK TO PDF)

2. American Academy of Family Physicians. “10 communication tips for physician phone visits during COVID-19.” Accessed September 1, 2020. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/journals/fpm/blogs/inpractice/entry/telephone_visit_tips_2.html.

The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before you make decisions about your health.

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