How a Simple Email Can Help Protect You From Medical Abandonment During the COVID-19 Crisis
With the tumultuous health and economic situations brought on by the rapid spread of COVID-19, many chiropractic clinics are in the unfortunate position of being unable to maintain their normal business hours, revenue streams, and operational flows. In this new environment of social distancing, chiropractors are left to provide care and guidance to patients without the hands-on approach that defines the profession.
What happens when you take away the chiro, or hands, from chiropractors? ChiroTouch Senior Manager of Training, Lynnette Conroy, researched this conundrum and found that for some, this means a transition to telehealth services where doctors have been left scrambling to learn the ins and outs of a new process to continue caring for their patients. Others have closed their practices, either by choice or by order of their local government.
Either way, communication is essential for both patient relations efforts as well as possible protection against medical abandonment claims. Patients are justifiably confused and concerned about the global pandemic and the advice that seems to change by the hour. When a trusted health advisor is suddenly and unexpectedly unavailable, they may feel abandoned.
Medical abandonment is a specific, albeit uncommon form of malpractice, predicated on the abrupt end of a doctor-patient relationship without reasonable notice, cause, or communication.
According to the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company (NCMIC), the largest provider of chiropractic malpractice insurance in the nation, though actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 does not include terminating your doctor-patient relationships, communication is key in preventing allegations of abandonment.
For those of you using CTIntouch, a two-way communication service available to ChiroTouch users that allows for mass and individual text (SMS) messaging, this process is easy; you can set blast campaigns to go out weekly, providing patients with updates until you can return to business as usual. Don’t have InTouch? Other good communication practices may include:
- Post regular updates on your practice website.
- Use social media sites like Facebook to provide frequent updates to patients and prospects.
- Send postcards or letters to your patients explaining your plans. Remember–you can print labels for these from the Labels/Lists feature in the ChiroTouch Front Desk application.
- Provide an email address or phone number that will be checked regularly while your office is closed to allow for direct contact and office opening updates, if so desired.
As an added level of security, NCMIC also advises you to keep a log of your practice activities during this crisis. When you closed or implemented reduced hours, patient communication measures, telehealth offerings, and return to work dates can get lost in your memory over time. Should you be audited, this written log may help to protect you and your practice.
ChiroTouch provides this information with the understanding that authors or speakers are not experts in finance, regulatory policy or law. ChiroTouch shares this information to the best of our knowledge and experience. The information is subject to change as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.