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Archive COVID-19 2021

Closing the Communication Gap

Engagement apps help patients and providers get — and stay — on the same page during the entire episode of surgical care.

Adam Taylor

BIO

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
Surgery Center of Fairbanks
PERSONAL CONNECTIONS The ability to text patients and their families is more important than ever in a time when loved ones can't enter your facility.
Hetland ENT was overwhelmed by its volume of phone calls to and from patients each day. The Bismarck, N.D., surgery center tried an online patient portal, but only a small percentage of patients opted to use it, so missed connections were frequent. Also, leadership thought the portal didn't provide the personal touch of a phone call, so it needed a third option.

Enter the patient-messaging app Hetland ENT started using in 2018. The results were immediate. More than 90% of patients — including the older ones who facility leaders were concerned might resist — bought in and began using the app. In no time, Hetland no longer needed two full-time employees to make phone calls all day.

Fast forward to 2020, when the messaging system was no longer considered a mere time-saving luxury. COVID-19 made it a necessity. Not only did patients want to know that it was safe for them to have surgery, but staff needed to ensure patients didn't have the virus in order to green-light elective procedures.

"The app has been the easiest way to communicate with our patients during the pandemic," says Hetland's Facilities Director Stefanie Parker. "We effectively and efficiently explained what our expectations were of them in terms of knowing whether they had any COVID-19 exposures."

The facility could tell patients about its new cleaning and infection prevention protocols, what the facility was going to look like and how things were going to be different than what they were expecting, or had seen in the past.

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