Coronavirus communications from ASCs: 7 critical messages

We are all aware of the high level of uncertainty that has marked the start of 2020.

The coronavirus represents a significant unknown and is impacting people and processes in ways that known entities like the flu do not. There is a growing sense of panic that this unknown is now fueling. While the panic is not all justified, it cannot be ignored.

ASCs have a responsibility to keep patients, staff, providers and vendors safe. At a time like this, effective communication and messaging are even more critical.

Here are examples of seven messages your ASC may want to consider sharing with the people coming to your facility and who they should be directed toward.

For patients and vendors: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please contact us to reschedule your appointment."
For staff: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please call the office to reschedule your shift."
For anyone: "Please be advised that we have implemented a NO handshake policy on the premise at all times"
• For staff and providers: "As a valued team member, please remember the importance of following hand hygiene, masking and all other hygiene-related policies per your training."
For patients, family members and vendors: "While in our waiting room or other areas of the facility, please cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze and cough. We have tissues and hand sanitizer located throughout the waiting room for your use. Please use both!"
For everyone: "To reduce your risk of spreading infection, remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. It helps to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth."
For staff: "Remember that we have changed our patient pre-screening and screening upon admission policies to include asking where patients have traveled. If you have any concerns about admitting a patient, please speak with your supervisor."

Spreading the word (not the virus)
It is critical to establish processes to best ensure these and other timely messages are distributed in an efficient and effective manner. Posting notices on your website, social media and around your ASC are worthwhile. Outbound communication like phone calls and emails can work as well. But texting is likely your best option for mass communication.

As was noted in a previous Becker's ASC Review column, "Texting is a proven form of communication. Research has shown that 98% of texts are read and 95% are read within just three minutes of being sent. This means if you need to get a message out quickly, to a significant number of people and with a high degree of confidence that your audience will receive it, send that message as a text."

We like to say that "The time to deploy texting is well before it is needed." With the coronavirus likely to continue spreading for some time, bringing with it even more panic, the time to deploy texting may be as soon as possible.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health, a cloud-based, two-way texting platform that enables vital information to be pushed to and pulled from patients and caregivers.

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