Leveraging National Immunization Awareness Month and Other Tips to Bring Patients Back for In-Person Visits

As the majority of healthcare providers discovered in 2020, offering telehealth services was an effective way to keep patients engaged in their practice during the height of COVID-19. But as a provider you know, there are some healthcare services or diagnoses that require patients to come in for an office visit. Some patients may still be hesitant to access care beyond telehealth, or for other patients, your practice may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for them and need reengagement.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and a good time to reach out to patients you haven't seen in awhile. Between leveraging this national observance, your own special value-added touches, and a few other strategies below, you can help make it easier for patients to come back for in-practice visits.

Here are 7 tips that can help:


Leverage National Immunization Awareness Month.


This is a good month to think about all preventive measures that go with the beginning of the school year. While promoting immunizations, your practice should also emphasize the importance of annual check-ups, sports physicals, and vaccines for everyone in the family – not just school-aged children. Inform patients that the CDC provides an Interactive Vaccine Guide, which offers information on vaccines recommended during pregnancy, childhood, and adulthood.


Increase communication.


Utilize the features of your EHR to reconnect with your patients. Create online presentations or YouTube videos on relevant healthcare topics and post on your website or send via e-mail or direct mail. Send re-care reminders to anyone who has used your practice's preventive medical care services in the past. Offer discounts and include information about them in all patient communications.


Promote importance of immunization on practice blog.


If you have a blog, use it to offer in-depth education on the importance of immunizations, preventive health care, and regular doctor visits. Remind people that vaccines provide protection against getting serious diseases like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV and pneumonia through on-time vaccination. Post regularly throughout National Immunization Awareness Month to reinforce the point. Follow up with texts and e-mail communications.


Send Electronic Newsletters.


A regularly scheduled electronic newsletter gives you an excellent vehicle to remind patients to get their immunizations and annual physical exams. You can also use it to share patient success stories, practice or clinic updates, and healthcare education. Post the link on your website, social media channels and display a copy in your lobby.


Offer an initial telehealth appointment.


You can use this option to communicate to certain patients the reasons and incentives to come into your practice, while assuring them that it is safe. A telehealth visit provides a way to connect with and educate patients while turning appointment cancellations into sessions. When reaching out to patients who missed care, offer to reschedule that care either in-person or through telehealth, gradually building up their confidence to come into the office.


Publicize your COVID-19 safety protocols.


Compile a list of FAQs patients might have about safety against the virus and encourage patients to ask more questions. Also, make sure staff is following safety protocols and show the clinic is a sterilized zone where guidelines are followed and minimal contact between people is practiced. Even though guidelines may be relaxing, make sure patients know that your practice or clinic stays in “a bubble within itself.”


Hold an open house event.


Use this event to invite past and present patients and show off your safety protocols at an open house event. Provide incentives like a raffle, free neck massage and possibly a free wellness check to go along with immunizations. You can do a quick health-themed presentation, have refreshments and music, give a tour of the office with COVID-friendly amenities, and offer takeaways such as flyers and CDs as educational tools. The open house can be co-hosted with other healthcare practices in your building or network, and it would be most effective on Thursday evening after work.

Remember, patients need reassurance after the trauma of COVID-19. They will appreciate positive, direct information from their healthcare providers – along with a friendly reminder to come in for an immunization and a checkup. By maintaining contact with patients during and after the lockdown, providers can ensure that their patients are keeping up a healthy lifestyle and want to come back to get in-office services when it is feasible and safe.

For a visual representation of how you can get patients back into your practice for in-person office visits, download our infographic here. Or for help with patient engagement, visit our website.

About the Author

Ilene Schneider, owner of Schneider the Writer, provides communications support to health care, technology, educational and service enterprises. Ilene has an extensive...

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