COVID-19 and Patient Anxiety: Top 5 Concerns

It’s not uncommon for patients visiting the doctor to experience anxiety related to their symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment. The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has introduced a new type of anxiety for many patients: the fear of exposure to the virus. Many Americans are even avoiding medical care due to fear of contracting the virus in a healthcare setting.

Using SurveyVitals’ comment sentiment analysis and keyword search, we reviewed patient comments specific to COVID-19 procedures in office-based practices. We identified the top five patient concerns related to fear of clinical contamination. Taking steps to address these concerns may increase your patients’ comfort level with your care.

Top 5 Patient Concerns

#1: Visitor Screening

Screening patients and visitors prior to entry may look different from one practice to the next. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published recommendations for screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk potential.

This screening at the building entrance gives peace of mind for patients who worry they will come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. It is important to have a triaging process in place so patients can feel at ease in your facility.

#2: Shared Items

Patients are particularly apprehensive about handling shared items such as pens, clipboards, or tablets. Whenever possible, offer the option for patients to fill out paperwork online prior to their visit.

For patients who do need to fill out forms onsite, disinfect pens and clipboards after each use. Consider having a clearly-labeled ‘clean’ set of pens and clipboards for patients to use.

In the waiting room, remove magazines and toys. If wifi is available, post the login information so patients can use their phones while they wait.

#3: Waiting Room Distancing

Many patients express discomfort with their proximity to other people in the waiting room. The CDC guidelines for clinic COVID-19 preparedness specify that waiting rooms should be set up to allow for six feet of distance between patients. Use signs to designate seating as off-limits, or remove chairs from the waiting room to provide adequate social distancing.

For check-in and check-out, place markers on the floor for patients to stand on to maintain six feet of distance.

If social distancing is not feasible in your waiting room, consider having patients wait in their cars or in a designated outdoor waiting area. If possible, you may also set up partitions inside.

#4: Face Masks

The CDC has published recommendations regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians and symptomatic patients. However, required use of masks by all staff (both clinical and office) as well as patients and visitors is important in reducing patient anxiety about COVID-19 exposure.

If masks are required at your facility, make the policy known when scheduling the appointment and again with any reminders sent to the patient.

Sometimes patients can have difficulty with understanding their provider or another staff member due to mask use. Before removing your mask, view this article on communicating effectively while following COVID-19 prevention procedures.

#5: Offering Supplies

It’s crucial to offer hand sanitizer and tissues, and to ensure patients can easily access trash cans and soap at sinks. Patients without access to these supplies are likely to experience anxiety about contamination, especially if they have had to handle shared items such as pens, or if they’ve had to touch door handles or equipment.

SurveyVitals Study of Patient Views on COVID-19

Since March 2020, SurveyVitals has surveyed over 100,000 patients to capture public sentiment regarding COVID-19. View the ongoing study here and sign up for a demo today to learn how you can take part while collecting valuable feedback about the patient experience in your organization.

July 23rd, 2020 Categories: Best Practices, COVID-19, featured, Outpatient Practice

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New Feature: SPSQ Low Score Comment Prompts

Low Score Comment Prompts

Better understand patient concerns with our low-score survey logic, now included on our Standard Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (SPSQ). When patients select a score of a ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the five-point Likert scale for any standard survey question, they will be prompted to leave a comment describing their experience in that area.

The long-term use of this feature on our Anesthesia Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (APSQ2) has been effective in helping providers to better understand trends and improvement opportunities in specific areas. These prompts encourage patients to include details about a specific part of their experience, providing deeper insights than often gained with generalized comment prompts at the end of a survey. Please note, there will be no change to the existing SPSQ comment questions with the addition of the low score prompts.

To gain even more insight from your patient feedback, use our sentiment analysis tool to review patient low score comments. This will help you to identify the most critical feedback quickly.

Have questions about this new feature or the SPSQ survey? Chat with us using the blue chat icon below, or reach out to your client account manager. Interested in learning more about SurveyVitals? Request a demo of the solution here.

December 16th, 2019 Categories: featured, Outpatient Practice, Patient Experience, Product Features

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Provider Spotlight: Tina Eide, MD, Matrix Anesthesia

Provider Spotlight: Tina Eide

Tina Eide, a board certified anesthesiologist from Matrix Anesthesia, was one of the winners of our recent Patient Experience Week giveaway. We asked Tina about the best practices she follows to provide exceptional patient care, and we’re excited to share her responses.

Tina studied medicine at the University of Washington and trained at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Her primary areas of work interest include regional anesthesia, neuroanesthesia, lifestyle/behavior, and anti-aging medicine.

What best practices do you and the staff you work with follow that you attribute to your positive scores?

Tina Eide: [The] Overtake Hospital pre-operative setting includes private rooms for each patient, so interviews can be conducted with a closed door, and a quiet environment. This is instrumental in developing patient trust, explaining anesthetic choices, and creating a safe space for patients to voice anxieties or fears. Also, the pre-op nurses are excellent and gather information ahead of the anesthesiologist meeting the patient, so we don’t have to be entirely reiterative.

I always try to ask several specific questions about a patient. By knowing a few personal details, I can often begin talking about a familiar topic that helps put the patient at ease. I’ve even gotten three patients to sing for me recently!

Finally, I always offer my first name after I’ve introduced myself as Doctor Eide. I give my patient the choice of which to call me, and most prefer calling me Dr. Tina or just Tina. I am able to communicate through this that I am a professional but I am also a human.

What is one example of how you improved your relationship with your patients and/or the care you provide?

Tina Eide: When I first began, I was hesitant to explain all the risks that are inherent to anesthesia with patients. I felt this information might burden them or raise their anxiety prior to surgery. As I grew as a doctor and learned from my patients, I realized that patients are entitled to know the specifics of the care they will receive while under anesthesia. Some patients will decline a total explanation, and this is just fine. Other patients want to know each event that will occur and the possible up and downsides.

I learned that if I was upfront and explicit about the risk discussion, patients were extremely appreciative and their trust in me grew as well.

How do you best use your SurveyVitals data for your own personal improvement?

Tina Eide: I look for the specific comments that patients make about their experiences. Often we only hear general feedback like “great job” but when people relay a certain moment that touched them, or a particular action I did that helped them feel at ease, I am able to repeat that going forward.

I also accept any critical feedback with an open mind and heart. As a doctor, I hold myself to an exceptionally high standard to ‘do no harm’ which can sometimes translate in my mind as ‘make no mistakes.’ Clearly, as a human being, I have to accept that I will make a mistake now and again. If I can hear the critical feedback well enough to learn from it, however, I see it as a growth opportunity rather than something negative.

September 16th, 2019 Categories: Anesthesia, Best Practices, Client Spotlight, featured, Patient Experience

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