The COVID pandemic has frozen many industries, but one that urgently needs attention is the healthcare industry. With over 2 million infected people in the US there is a great deal of fear and concern about visiting hospitals and other healthcare facilities by the rest of the population. Hospitals are reporting that patient traffic is down sharply and those that are visiting hospitals and emergency rooms are sicker than normal, having delayed a visit due to fears about the very hospital they need to address their conditions.
Tucker & Company commissioned national patient research in June 2020 focused on understanding 3 critical factors:
- How concerned are patients about a visit to the hospital or emergency room?
- What specifically are they concerned about?
- What can hospitals do to alleviate patient fears and help them get the care and treatment they need?
Patient Fears – On High alert
Patients stated they were extremely concerned about visiting an emergency room during the current pandemic, with 70% stating they had “severe or major concerns” about visiting an ER. This represents a serious situation that needs proactive communication and management to make patients feel safe enough to get the medical attention they need.
Patients fear being exposed to other COVID and other diseases by other patients and medical staff
Patients #1 fear was being exposed to COVID by other patients during their visit. However, their #2 fear was being exposed to COVID by the medical staff during their visit. With these top 2 fears in mind, protocols and procedures can be developed and communicated to overcome the fears. In addition, several more factors generated concern for more than 45% of patients.
Focus on the waiting room and admittance area – don’t forget the care delivery area and staff as well.
Patients were most concerned about the ER waiting area, with 89% having a high or moderate degree of concern about their infection exposure in that area. The care delivery area followed closely with 76% having a high or moderate degree of concern.
Technology can help improve the issue – but Telehealth/Telemedicine isn’t the #1 option
Patients prioritized a set of improvements to help them feel safer about going to the ER during the pandemic. The 2 most frequently recommended items were publishing Patient guidelines for being safe at the ER and having a real-time ER monitor with expected waiting time to avoid the fears of a long-wait and continued exposure to other patients. Telemedicine received a suggestion from over 60% of patients.
Patient input and feedback is critical to delivering communications to best help patients and their families get the care they need during these stressful times. Over 300 patient-generated suggestions were provided that can help your hospital and emergency room get back up to the level of care delivery the community needs. Please contact us to get a copy of the research findings or discuss how to leverage the research for your healthcare operation at [email protected]