Rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world comes as welcome news after the devastation of the last 12+ months. Although it is unclear when and how rollout will take place in South Africa, we are still at the precipice of the new norm. Despite the unknowns, you can expect that when the vaccine does become available there will be both a sense of urgency to administer and a reluctance to receive the vaccine from patients. To ensure your medical practice is ready from the get-go, we’ve put together some tips for getting vaccine ready.
1. Vaccinate Staff
Frontline medical staff will form part of the first cohort of individuals who will receive the vaccine. Before you schedule any patients to receive the vaccine, you want to be sure that your staff are vaccinated. Schedule your staff to receive the vaccine as you would patients. Remember everyone needs to receive two doses of the vaccine so it is a good idea to pre-schedule their doses and send reminders accordingly.
If you are a GP practice and you haven’t yet registered your practice to receive the prioritised vaccination, click here.
2. Start Messaging Now
You will be met with resistance from some patients. Start educating your patient population early about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Tackle concerns and misinformation by sharing easy-to-understand FAQs about the vaccine, science-based articles and studies that debunk myths, and other information from reliable sources. Your objective is to reassure patients that the vaccines have both been thoroughly tested and are safe and effective.
Use practice patient communication tools, your website, Facebook page and other platforms to share credible information. If you are using a public platform to share, be sure to have a plan in place to avoid getting into debates with patients and for dealing with misinformed comments.
3. Send Reminders about Best Practices
You don’t want to relax COVID-19 health and safety protocols because the vaccine is available. Communicate with patients who have scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine about ongoing safety protocols and best practice. Use automated SMS reminders as an easy, direct way to reach your patients on their mobile devices. Remember to include information about pre-visit protocols, what to do when they arrive at the practice (i.e. park and text vs physically waiting in the waiting room), and what to do if the patient has an adverse reaction.
4. Vaccine Follow-up
Again, use available communication tools to check in with patients after they’ve received the vaccine. Send group messages by Bulk SMS to patient cohorts who are on the same dose schedule. Reassure them of your availability and share practice opening times and if applicable, offer them a telehealth follow up appointment. This is also a good opportunity to send out surveys to track any side effects or adverse reactions to the vaccine.
While it’s certainly better to be grappling with push back or hesitancy from patients than critically ill and/or highly infectious patients, the roll out of the vaccine will come with challenges. Preparation is the key to ensuring that your medical practice can effectively manage much-anticipated vaccinations in a timely and efficient manner.
Medical practices that are not already using digital tools to communicate with and manage patients are urged to implement the right solutions to help navigate the new norm. Healthbridge is the technology partner of choice for over 5 000 private practices throughout the country. Click here for a free practice assessment and invaluable insights for future-proofing your practice.
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