How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

A traditional waiting room can be a melting pot for germs and bacteria. Learn how a virtual waiting room protects patients and staff by reducing their risk of exposure to infection. Possible side effects: more pleasant patient-provider encounters, increased patient and provider satisfaction, better adherence to social distancing best practices, and improved overall outcomes.

May 2020, 90% of patients globally reported that the quality of care was as good or better with the recent surge in virtual care than care quality before COVID-19.1

What is a “virtual waiting room”?

If you’ve been out to eat at a restaurant in the past few years, you may have noticed a change in the experience of waiting for a table. Rather than asking you to stay within earshot while you wait, today’s hostess will likely request your cell phone number and offer to text you when your table is ready.

The text-to-table process makes the entire experience feel more personal, comfortable, and customer-centric. That’s because waiting is less unpleasant when you are free to do what you want—where you want—until the moment your turn arrives. Now, the same experience has become essential in healthcare to minimize patient discomfort and protect public safety with social distancing.

A virtual waiting room (aka mobile waiting room, zero-contact waiting room, or curbside check-in) is a service that allows patients to check in using their mobile phone and notifies them through a direct text message when it is their turn to be seen by the doctor.

An ideal virtual waiting room serves two essential purposes:

  1. Giving in-person patients the freedom to wait for their turn privately in their car or wherever they choose, rather than being confined to a stuffy, crowded waiting room and risking exposure to new germs and potential illness.
  2. Facilitating a smooth check-in process for telehealth visits.

Both purposes improve the patient experience and encourage healthy practices.

Why are virtual waiting rooms essential for in-person patient visits?

31% of patients say they are uncomfortable visiting a doctor’s office and 42% are uncomfortable visiting a hospital.2

Traditional waiting rooms that require patients to touch shared surfaces and breathe shared air are both uncomfortable and unsafe in the current environment. Virtual waiting rooms serve the important health purpose of enabling social distancing, and they also enhance the patient experience.

Unlike a traditional waiting room, a virtual waiting room reduces the risk of patients (and staff) associating your organization with frustrating factors beyond your control, which may include pesky sounds, smells, other people, and even boredom. As demand rises for a safer, more comfortable healthcare experience, virtual waiting rooms are the key to getting patients in the door while increasing their odds of leaving satisfied.

How can virtual waiting rooms apply to video visits?

Ideally, the same virtual solution used to help manage in-person patient visits can be adapted to also queue up video visits, allowing providers and patients to indicate when they are ready.

What’s the best way to implement a virtual waiting room?

In short, work with what you’ve got. If you have a patient engagement solution that can also facilitate a virtual waiting room and video visits, talk to your vendor about the next steps for launching a virtual waiting room.

If you do not have a solution for two-way texting or video visits with patients, or if you are looking for a replacement/upgrade to your current system, focus on finding a solution that can do the following:

  • Automated Appointment Reminders to Patients
  • Pre-Appointment and Pre-Arrival Instructions to Patients
  • Patient Arrival Notification via Simple Text
  • Entry Notification and Office Navigation Guidance
  • HIPAA-Compliant Video Connection
  • Scheduled and On-the-Fly Video Visits
  • Connect Without Requiring App Downloads or Passwords
  • Caller ID Protection for Providers
  • 24/7 Connection

Here’s a streamlined patient experience with an organization using all of the above capabilities:

Key Benefits of an Integrated Virtual Waiting Room

Virtual waiting rooms are extremely beneficial to patients, staff, and organizations that implement them, especially when they are integrated with other patient engagement solutions, such as video visits and HIPAA-compliant messaging.

Some of the top benefits include:

  • Patient Protection and Safety
  • Increased Patient Satisfaction
  • Reduced Frustration for Patients and Staff
  • Efficient Patient Intake
  • Reduced No-Shows

 

Get Started Now to See Benefits Sooner

Give your patients a safer, easier solution for maintaining their healthcare with a user-friendly, integrated virtual waiting room. To see how it works, click below.

Resources:

  1. Virtual care here to stay, PharmaTimes, Brad Michel, Jul. 21, 2020: pharmatimes.com/web_exclusives/Virtual_care_here_to_stay_1345204
  2. Breakdown of Changes in Consumers’ Health Care Behavior During COVID-19—INFOGRAPHIC, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), May 21, 2020: achp.org/research-breakdown-of-changes-in-consumers-health-care-behavior-during-covid-19

We’re Offering Complimentary Support to Clients for COVID-19 Best Practices

It is not business as usual for our clients, and PerfectServe wants to help. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations are working quickly to address potential capacity challenges, communication needs, patient education opportunities, clinician staffing shortfalls, and more. We have already supported many clients in their COVID-19 efforts, and we’ve assembled lists of best practices to share with the industry.

We have fielded and executed requests from healthcare organizations of all sizes, including Prisma Health and United Health Services. We’ve learned from these experiences and want to replicate the benefits for other clients at no charge.

Our Offer to Customers

To help during this difficult time, PerfectServe is extending the following to all of our customers:

  • Free software and services for Patient & Family Communication (automated patient outreach via text message) for COVID-19 purposes. Carrier message rates may apply.
  • Free services to implement best practices for COVID-19 purposes.

This offer applies regardless of the PerfectServe, Telmediq, or Lightning Bolt solution(s) you currently use—Clinical Communication & Collaboration, Nurse Mobility, Patient & Family Communication, Answering Service, Contact Center, or Provider Scheduling. If you’re interested in learning more, please call 866.844.5484, email connect@perfectserve.net, or enter your contact information in the form to the left.

How can this offer help?

Because time is of the essence, we focused the offer on impactful software and services that can be implemented quickly.

With PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication (PFC) solution, your health system can engage patients with relevant COVID-19 updates and instructions via text message. Sample PFC use cases that have been implemented recently include:

  • Announcing curbside test access to patients. An on-demand message is initiated by nurses in a call center, which points the patient to a specific clinic site. The message instructs the patient to park, call a designated phone number, and wait for a test to be administered at their vehicle.
  • Two-way secure messaging with patients. A secure, encrypted messaging interface enables two-way communication with patients. This gives providers the ability to conduct risk or screening assessments to ask about symptoms and monitor responses.
  • Informing patients how, when, and where to access care. This includes both physical care access and hyperlinks to existing virtual clinic or telehealth platforms.
  • Providing patient education on best practices for disease avoidance and management. This can be as simple as pointing patients to the CDC website.
  • Trying to catch potential cases before they walk in the door. Directly after a reminder for an existing appointment is delivered, another message follows that asks the patient to call a telephone number to initiate a phone screening with a clinician if they have flu-like symptoms.

To implement PerfectServe’s PFC platform, customers supply formatted patient lists and data, including patient telephone numbers.

Beyond PFC, we’d also like to facilitate new critical communications to your care teams with free services to implement best practices. Every facility is unique, and we’re extending no-cost assistance to help you implement new workflows, make adjustments to current settings, or otherwise optimize your PerfectServe solution in a way that best supports your organization’s COVID-19 response efforts.

The following have been some of the most common best practices requests:

  • Setup or Modification of Team Alerts/Broadcast Groups/Distribution Lists: Multidisciplinary teams for incident response, infection management, and patient tracking have been key to COVID-19 response efforts. PerfectServe has worked with a number of customers to implement new team alerts (also called broadcast groups or distribution lists) or modify existing team alerts by adding members.
  • In most hospital settings, the process for communicating specific incident or patient details to a larger care team is manually intensive. These workflows typically have many steps, numerous decision points, and multiple handoffs, creating potential for communication breakdowns and delays in time-sensitive situations.
  • Team alerts automate many of the steps in the rapid response process, such as sending notifications to all team members—including team leadership—at the same time. With a single communication, all appropriate care team members are identified and contacted simultaneously, which speeds time to treatment and improves patient outcomes.
  • Schedule and Assignment Changes: During a virus outbreak, healthcare organizations may experience unusual fluctuations in patient load, and their own providers are also at increased risk of falling ill or experiencing burnout. Several Physician Scheduling customers have reached out for assistance implementing new assignments and schedules to ensure their facilities are optimally staffed amidst changing conditions.

The above use cases are far from an exhaustive list. Heightened communication is more important than ever in times of crisis, and clinical communication and collaboration solutions make it possible to connect with the right person at the right time to respond more effectively to an emergent situation. Additionally, customers with secure messaging have immediate access to hundreds of thousands of clinicians across the country who also use PerfectServe, providing a network effect that allows communication to transcend the boundaries of your facility.

Bottom line?

We are always grateful for the care that doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals provide for patients and families, but perhaps never more than now. We are keen to provide assistance to our customers, many of whom are on the front lines of this unpredictable public health crisis.

The PerfectServe team is ready to support your COVID-19 efforts. Please contact us today to get the conversation started.