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Consider Zika a reminder to plan ahead for successful patient communications

Should a patient walk through your doors with a question or concern about the Zika virus, will your office be ready to respond?
That's an essential question, the answer to which can help steer your practice to a successful communications plan before a crisis occurs, according to Ross Goldberg, president of communications firm Kevin/Ross Public Relations in Westlake Village, Calif.
"One fault that too many practices make is waiting until a health care crisis or emergency hits to get their plan in place," says Goldberg. "By then it’s too late to start gathering email addresses, too late to find out each patient’s preferred method of communication and too late to train your office staff of what is expected of them in moments like this."
Preparing ahead of time can help solidify your role as trusted advisor to your patients, said Goldberg in a story on the Zika virus appearing in the June 13 issue of Part B News.
Practices generally have two options when it comes to serving this role. "Each physician needs to decide if they choose to be proactive in reaching out to their entire patient population or simply be prepared for patient inquires which may come their way," says Goldberg.
Either way, you'll need to be knowledgeable about the topic so you can provide the accurate information that your patients seek. And that role extends to your entire staff.
"It is critically important to sit down with your office staff — front office, back office and nurses  — and speak with them about this emergency," Goldberg advises. For instance, you can get ready by exploring the following questions: "What should they say if they receive a call from one of your patients? What if a patient who is there for a routine check-up starts asking about their chances of contracting the Zika virus?"
Take the time to prepare and your effort will surely pay off. "Prior planning is key and will pay great dividends in the long run," adds Goldberg.
Blog Tags: primary care
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