5 Key Ingredients For Your Hospital’s COVID-19 Testing Page
I’m sitting in a drive-through, and they said I would need to wait just a little longer. No, I’m not waiting on my morning coffee or a sandwich — I’m waiting for results from my COVID-19 test.
As I sit here, I recognize that most hospitals are doing the absolute best they can. But this is still an opportunity to make the patient experience smoother. By now, all hospitals have something on their website for patients who want to be tested.
This page will make people either love you or hate you. It’ll definitely be the latter if your information about testing is buried among a brain dump of other content about COVID-19.
Why Is Your COVID-19 Testing Page So Critical?
To avoid unnecessary phone calls and emails: Patients should not have to waste time asking for information that should be easy to find on your website.
To keep people updated: The availability of tests, the quality of the test, and the timeliness of results should all clearly be communicated in real-time.
Here are 5 key ingredients for a COVID-19 testing page.
1. It’s high and mighty on the website.
If I have to search beyond one click, I’m annoyed. Why? Because I have a fever. I’m coughing. I’m short of breath, and my joints ache. Plus, these kids are still demanding my attention. I need this information quickly, and I don’t have time for a clunky experience.
The page about getting a COVID-19 test should be:
- A separate page — I don’t want to have to scroll through all your other content for it
- Accessible from the home page, like in your utility or primary navigation, and all your social media
- A URL that’s easy to remember, like www.hospital.com/covid-19-test. Put that on your phone tree intro, your app, radio ads, and wherever else it’ll fit
2. It contains easy-to-find information for scheduling a COVID-19 test.
As soon as a patient clicks on the designated COVID-19 testing page, they should find clear information about scheduling. This process varies from hospital to hospital, and it’s important to eliminate the guessing game.
To start, use visual elements to compel the reader’s eyes to critical information, such as who is eligible for a test.
In addition, prepare patients with the following scheduling information:
- An easily-identifiable phone number that’s hyperlinked since I’m probably on my phone.
- Phone tree instructions. If patients need to press option #1 to schedule a test, put that on the web page. I don’t want to listen to your 5-minute phone tree, even if your options have recently changed.
- Expected wait times. If you’re scheduling people the same day, put that on the page. If it’s two or three days for a test, put that, too. I don’t want to go through the whole scheduling and triage process only to find out I’ll be waiting longer than expected for a test. Plus, it’s amazing how much more receptive people are when you give them a heads up.
- What information they’ll need to have available, such as birth date, address, insurance information, and even car information for drive-through testing. Remember, some people might be calling for a loved one. They’ll need to gather this information ahead of time so they’re not scrambling for it on the phone.
- Testing location, including drive-through services or clinic locations, and maybe even a picture of the entrance.
Every bit of frustration you can take out of this experience is helpful.
3. It explains what to expect during a COVID-19 testing appointment.
Let patients know exactly what will happen at their appointment.
To begin, don’t assume patients know how they should show up for COVID-19 testing:
- Do they need to be wearing a mask or gloves?
- Should they come alone, or is it okay if they bring someone with?
- Should they have their insurance card with them?
- Are you doing nasal swabs? How long does it take and will it hurt?
Set all of these expectations up front.
4. It provides information about COVID-19 test results — and what patients should do with them.
Patients will, understandably, be anxious about their results. Explain your hospital’s process for reporting results so they know what to expect — and when:
- Do you do same-day results, or is it going to take 3 days?
- What should patients do — and not do — while waiting? Do they need to act like they have COVID-19 until they know for sure?
Put this info on your testing page, so the patient or their caregiver can refer to it. With this fever, I won’t remember.
Finally, be clear about what their results mean. What requires strict quarantine? When are they able to go back to their normal social distancing routine? What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? This information is exactly how we stop the spread.
5. It includes information found on any COVID-19-related print materials you provide to your patients.
After COVID-19 testing, many hospitals are providing patients with a print out about their next steps. This is only helpful for about 5 minutes.
My kids—who are home all day—are going to destroy this piece of paper.
Also, if there is information that a loved one needs to know, a COVID-19 positive patient shouldn’t be handing pieces of paper around. That just put someone else at risk.
The information on the printout and the website should be verbatim on the website. If the hard copy says to stay home for 14 days, but the website says 7, I’m confused. I really don’t need this kind of confusion right now.
There is enough uncertainty regarding COVID-19 at the moment. If a patient suspects they may have COVID-19, they shouldn’t need to search to find the information they need to get tested. Your hospital’s website is either helping or not.
Need more guidance?
Learn how to create content for your hospital’s website during a crisis.
Looking for other ways to ensure your hospital’s website is up to par regarding COVID-19 information and beyond? We can help.
Hear From The Experts: The 5 Best Podcasts To Listen To During The Coronavirus Pandemic
I’m going to steal a stat we used in a blog post about podcasts a couple of months ago:
Ten years ago, 1 in 10 people over age 12 had listened to a podcast in the previous month. By March 2019, it had jumped to 1 in 3.
Source: Edison Research
In the midst of the COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) outbreak, the demand for podcasts has been increasing even more. For example, Acast, the largest global podcast company, reported that they now host more than 1,400 podcast episodes with the words “covid” or “corona” in the title. These episodes have been downloaded more than 27.5 million times, as of March 25, 2020.
Whether you’re in the middle of social distancing or bravely making your way to your job (thank you essential workers!), you may have started turning to podcasts as a way to get answers to your questions, relieve stress and boredom, and cope with the roller coaster of emotions you may be riding on.
Here are 5 podcasts to listen to in the midst of COVID-19.
1. Coronavirus Daily (NPR)
NPR’s Coronavirus Daily podcast covers all aspects of the impact of COVID-19 — from science and medicine to politics and economics to culture and society. Episodes feature interviews with NPR’s reporters and crews.
For this podcast, there are two main pros and cons, and they are basically the same — it just depends on what you’re looking for.
- Episodes are only 10 minutes, so you can get your quick scoop and head-on with your day.
- With so many topics covered, you’re not limited to only health or economic news.
- Episodes are only 10 minutes, so if you’re very interested in a topic, you’re only going to get an overview.
- Since many topics are covered, it’s not the best one if you’re really only interested in one specific one.
When: Daily, published on weekday afternoons
Approximate Length Per Episode: 10 minutes
Host: Kelly McEvers from Embedded
2. Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic has been publishing updates and articles about COVID-19, many of which contain podcasts. Podcasts cover medical topics, such as flattening the curve and coping with mental health challenges related to the pandemic.
- Mayo Clinic is one of the most well-known and highly respected medical institutions in the world, so you know you are getting accurate, trustworthy information.
- All episodes are focused on the medical and health aspects of COVID-19 (not economic or political), which is great if you want to stick strictly to medicine.
- The episodes might touch on non-medical topics briefly, but they pretty much stick to medicine — so if you want information on economics or policy, this probably isn’t the podcast for you.
Bonus: Mayo Clinic also released a special COVID-19 miniseries where medical professionals can earn continuing medical education (CME) credit. The general public can listen, but these episodes tend to be more “jargon-y.”
When: Every day or two
Approximate Length Per Episode: between 7-40 minutes
Hosts: Dr. Tom Shives and Tracy McCray
3. Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN)
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN, discusses the latest news on Coronavirus. He covers topics that are highly consumer-focused, such as what to expect if you need to travel, what the COVID-19 test is like, and how to talk to kids about the virus.
- This podcast looks at COVID-19 through a unique lens. He speaks with frontline healthcare workers, patients who have recovered, and people from other countries who experienced lockdowns before the US.
- Dr. Gupta answers listeners’ questions directly, so he is closely in touch with his audience.
- Dr. Gupta’s voice is reassuring. We’re not kidding. Don’t underestimate this.
- Listening to healthcare workers’ and patients’ stories is powerful but it can also be a little difficult — especially if you’re already feeling anxious.
When: Every weekday
Approximate Length Per Episode: Between 5-20 minutes
Host: Dr. Sanjay Gupta
4. Podcasts For Kids
While there isn’t one children’s podcast series devoted to the virus, several series have produced episodes geared towards young listeners. The episodes answer questions about where COVID-19 came from to how it is spread to whether it’s still safe to hug Grandma and Grandpa.
- These episodes are directed right toward kids, so they are easy to understand.
- Since there isn’t one full series, you have to look around a little.
- Understanding coronavirus and how germs spread (Brains On, 34 minutes)
- Answering Kids’ Coronavirus Questions (Tumble Science Podcast for Kids, 19 minutes)
- Coronavirus For Kids, And The Science Of Soap (But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, 31 minutes)
Details — when, length per episode, and host — all vary based on the podcast. But these three range from about 20-30 minutes each.
5. Anxiety Slayer
Due to the fear of getting COVID-19, social distancing, and the general uncertainty surrounding the virus, anxiety is running rampant. Anxiety Slayer is a mental health podcast that provides tools, tips, and practices for staying calm.
- The importance of taking care of mental health cannot be understated, especially during this time. And since Anxiety Slayer has been around for years (they are on Episode #489 as of March 20, 2020), you know they are experts.
- There is a combination of podcasts that do and do not mention COVID-19, so you can choose to delve into your coronavirus stress specifically or seek an escape.
- With a good mix of both guided meditations and education about anxiety relief, you can access in-the-moment solutions and also learn how to cope in the future.
- Even though they might give you ideas for quick ways to relieve anxiety, the podcasts themselves are about 20-30 minutes. If you’re looking for a fast way to reduce anxiety, you might be better off with an app that offers 3-5 minute mindfulness exercises.
- There are only a few episodes that mention COVID-19, so this probably isn’t the one to listen to if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of coping with coronavirus anxiety.
Approximate Length Per Episode: 20-30 minutes
Hosts: Shann Vander Leek and Ananga Sivyer
There are plenty of fantastic COVID-19 episodes within existing podcast series (ones not solely dedicated to the virus). Here are some episodes the CareContent team recommends:
- 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You (NPR, 15 minutes)
- Coronavirus: Where Are The Tests? (Science Rules! with Bill Nye, 23 minutes)
- Coronavirus Update with Anthony Fauci, MD – March 18, 2020 (JAMA Network Learning, 31 minutes)
- Coronavirus Thoughts — What a Year this Week has Been (Nutrition Matters Podcast, 32 minutes). Paige Smathers, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, talks about self-care and nutrition during the time of coronavirus.
- Figuring Out What’s REALLY Going on With Tyler and Hannah With Comments by Celebs (US Weekly Bachelor Podcast, 42 minutes). This one is about how the stars of The Bachelor are coping with quarantine (and even a COVID-19 diagnosis!). Sorry. Can’t resist.
Finding The Right Podcast
These are only a handful of the podcasts/episodes devoted to COVID-19. Find the one that you like best, but remember to do a little research first and make sure that a podcast that provides medical or scientific information is trustworthy. Look for podcasts from reputable medical organizations or ones that interview people from those organizations (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health).
And whether you listen to a podcast or continue watching a show where people get engaged having never seen one another in person, take care of yourself during this time.
Do you want us to put together a list of podcasts that your audience would like? Let us know!
Why A Healthcare Community Matters For Hospitals
What is the fastest way to educate a large group of people? You tell them all at once.
Having an online healthcare community makes increasing the health literacy of people around your hospital simple. An online community is a group of people with shared interests. Participants tend to be active on social media as well as topic forums, email groups, and blog post comment sections. Such a community can be an excellent tool for building relationships with your patients—as well as your patients’ friends and family—and disseminating information.
Here are 3 reasons why you should put an emphasis on bolstering your online presence.
Reason #1: This Little Thing Called Population Health.
Population health is a new model of patient care for healthcare organizations. It means focusing on health outcomes for patient populations instead of individuals. It also means focusing on preventive care instead of curative care, especially for people with chronic diseases, according to the American Hospital Association.
By building online communities for specific patient populations, you provide them with a resource that focuses on their specific issues. When you blog about a topic, you encourage others to share their stories. This can offer those new to the community hope and information.
Including visually pleasing graphics is a must. People scrolling through Twitter and Facebook will be instantly drawn to graphics that are both clean and helpful.
Reason #2: The Internet Is Here To Stay.
That means internet searches for health issues aren’t going away, either. Patients aren’t always going to save their questions and concerns for their next appointment. They want to find the information they need immediately. If they are a patient at your healthcare organization, they should be able to get that from you. That’s where having an online community can help.
These are just some of the top searches. People are out there looking for help with something. It’s the hospital’s duty to help with the health concerns. If they aren’t getting engagement from you, they’ll look elsewhere. At that point, they’re at the mercy of the internet, and we all know how much misinformation is out there.
Reason #3: You Can Provide A Ton Of Helpful Info.
An online forum can allow your medical experts to address a wide range of common concerns. Patients can be involved in discussion around the psychological, social, and emotional aspects of their condition as well.
Remember: It’s about the patient. When someone close to them is going through a tough procedure, they are looking for all the information they can get. We’ve seen firsthand how thankful patients are when their own healthcare provider is there to help.
Want to know how your healthcare organization can build an online community? Contact us for more information.