A New Definition of Long-Term Patient Care  

Written by Phil M Jones
One big lesson that 2020 has taught us is that there’s a new definition to long-term patient care. 

It’s no longer about offering clean & checks for several years, but it’s now about proving your commitment to being there to support patients no matter what happens in the world.

And although the coronavirus turned our world upside down and changed the way that we care for patients, it begs the question: How prepared are you if another unprecedented event were to occur?

For example, in the past 30 days alone:

  • One of our members in Lake Charles has had their building seriously damaged due to Hurricane Laura (with their power still out).
  • One of our members in Pensacola was hit by Hurricane Sally, resulting in the main bridge to their location being destroyed (with repairs expected to take weeks).
  • Multiple members on the West Coast have been impacted (in some way or another) by the wildfires.
  • The UK and mainland Europe have seen a steep increase in COVID-19 cases and governments are starting to phase back into lockdowns, with the UK announcing that no households can mix for at least 6 months.

I don’t want to bring the tone down or stop you from focusing on the fun side of running a business, but we all have a responsibility to at least consider how well equipped we are to deal with worst case scenarios.

One of the key lessons that we should all take from this year is to be prepared and have a plan if a challenge presents itself again.

For example, what would happen if you couldn’t access your office, your phone lines went down, you lost access to the internet, or you needed to contact your patients in an emergency?

Not exciting things to think about, but if your promise is to deliver long-term patient care, then having a plan in place should be a key part of fulfilling your commitment.

Let’s explore some of the potential situations and the steps that you can put into place to be prepared.

Can You Support Patients Without Access to Your Office?

If, for any reason, you lost access to your main office, would you still be able to support patients? Could you make an adjustment, have a teleaudiology consultation, or help them with a challenge?

If the answer is NO, then what would you need to do to be prepared?

This could mean having the required software on your laptop, it could mean having basic equipment at home in case of an emergency, or it could mean simply having a plan in place.

Consider your providers or front of office staff. How could they work from home? What tools would they need to be able to do their job remotely?

Once again, this is all about preparing for the worst case scenario – as long as you have a plan, you’ll be several steps ahead of your competitors.

What if Your Phone Lines Go Down?

With our member located in Lake Charles, her phone lines have been down for weeks, yet patients still need support and help.

The question is: If your phone lines went down for whatever reason, what would your plan be?

  • Could you add “Request a Callback” forms onto your website quickly?
  • Do you have a way to quickly share this with patients and give them alternative contact details?
  • Do you have a back-up cell phone number that could be emailed to patients in case of an emergency?

How About Your Communication with Patients? 

If a situation does occur, how would you communicate with patients to let them know what is happening and how they can receive your help?

This could mean having their email addresses and a direct way to reach them all quickly and effectively with a message, or it could mean having an active Facebook page that your members regularly follow.

But having a quick and easy way to reach your patients with important updates is a key way to tackle any unprecedented event/moment.

This is why collecting patients’ email addresses is so important! 

Give This Some Thought and Create Your Disaster Plan

This is work that nobody gets excited about, but with the promise of delivering patient care for life, it’s a piece of work that we should all do.

You don’t need a detailed step-by-step game plan and staff training, but having at least a rough plan of what your steps would be will ensure that you’re several steps ahead of any competitor if a situation were to occur.

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