How can you care for patients when you can’t see them?
The Covid-19 pandemic presents a uniquely challenging situation for dental and medical professionals around the world. In a time when patients most need reassurance, they can’t physically visit their doctor’s office and get the care and reliable information they normally rely on. This represents a significant challenge for both medical professionals who have sworn an oath to provide care, and for patients who are understandably anxious about protecting their health in the midst of this global event.
While this situation can’t be completely addressed with technology, there are plenty of companies offering communications and telehealth tools to help medical doctors and staff connect with each other, and with their patients at a distance. We’ve collected our favorite free tools that you can start using now to keep patients and staff engaged and healthy.
Tools to communicate with practice staff
Between social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders, we’re all having to adapt to a new way of interacting. It’s more important than ever that we remain connected. With these tools, it’s easier than ever before to keep your team informed and engaged from a distance, and will make the return to regular office hours that much smoother.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, office meetings still gotta happen. This video conferencing software allows your team to effectively meet from the comfort of their own home offices. With Zoom, attendees can share presentations, use a phone dial-in if someone is away from their computer, and share messages and files with the in-call chat function. The user interface is incredibly sleek and easy to use, and call quality is much higher compared to other free options like Google Hangouts, or FaceTime.
Their free plan offers unlimited 1 to 1 meetings, but does put a 40-minute limit on all group meetings. If you have a larger team, or want greater control over user management and the ability to record calls, their Pro plan is $14.99 a month.
Zello is a walkie-talkie app that allows you to share real-time voice messages with your team, either individually or as a group. (And let’s be honest, isn’t it nice to hear the sound of another human’s voice that isn’t a member of your household right now?) Messages are saved in your history, so you can easily replay or share them when you need to, and it’s a faster way of communicating with your entire team than sending texts or emails. Zello offers apps for iPhone, Android, and PCs, works with any data or WiFi network, and allows users to have unlimited channels, making this a feature-rich option for staying in touch.
The basic Zello app is available for free – but if you need extra security (i.e if you plan on discussing sensitive patient information), it’s worthwhile to upgrade to Zello Work which you can try for free for 30 days. Too, Zello is offering their enterprise-grade solution at no cost to first responders anywhere in the world.
Tools for patient communication
Keeping in contact with patients is always important, but even more so now. As healthcare concerns and pandemic-related anxiety have many patients understandably concerned, the need to connect with their primary care physician or medical specialist. Rest assured, there are HIPAA-compliant methods of connecting – and providing care for – your patients, even from the comfort of your own home office.
We’re all hearing a lot more about telehealth these days. With so many dental and medical offices closed, it’s extra challenging to remain connected with your patients, and more important than ever that you do so. NexHealth offers secure video appointments, so you can connect with patients even when they can’t physically come to your office to provide virtual visits, screenings, health information and sometimes, just a little reassurance.
In addition to telehealth, NexHealth addresses other methods of patient communications – including email and text messaging, and online booking – so you can keep your patients informed on when you’ll be accepting in-office patients again, and make it much easier for them to reschedule any appointments missed during the stay at home.
NexHealth is offering free telehealth during the pandemic. Medical practices can implement telehealth and keep patient communications ongoing in the absence of in-office visits.
Legal guidelines for telehealth
If you are adapting your dental or medical practice to telehealth and have questions about HIPAA compliance, Medcurity is offering free legal agreements for implementing telehealth during the pandemic.
Free tools for health screening
In the absence of a dentist or doctor’s office visit, how can patients accurately assess any symptoms they’re experiencing? And how can they know when those symptoms might require professional care? The free tools below offer basic health screening in the absence of an in-person visit – and raise a red flag when symptoms do necessitate a hospital visit.
If patients have concerns that they may have contracted Covid-19, this free screening tool from Cleveland Clinic helps them to get an accurate picture of their risk level based on symptoms and travel, and whether or not their symptoms require medical intervention.
Ada health app
This free ‘health companion’ mobile app allows users to input the symptoms they’re currently experiencing and the app will return a personalized assessment that can then be shared with their doctor. This tool can help to reassure patients who aren’t able to see their doctor, or let them know when their symptoms warrant medical intervention.
The Ada app is available for Apple and Android phones, and the company is also offering a Covid-19 screening tool.
With so much uncertainty – from economic anxieties to the everyday stresses of living through this unprecedented global event – it’s understandable that patients need the guidance and reassurance of medical professionals now more than ever. By implementing the use of these tools to manage your staff, and provide virtual care for your patients, you maintain those vital lines of communication when they’re needed most.