Maintain Patient Trust and Continue Best Practices During and After COVID-19

September 1, 2020
Elderly woman in mask meeting with nurse in waiting room

Ongoing trust is at the heart of healthcare provider relationships with patients. People must trust their providers to deliver secure, accurate and personalized care every time they visit a clinic or facility.

The world has been dealing with COVID-19 since the spring. Now, several months into the pandemic with many experts predicting a second wave later this year, maintaining patient trust is more important than ever. This includes ongoing patient communications that share any new changes to the office and letting patients know about current efforts to mitigate the virus transmission with an emphasis on patient well-being.


Providers have taken the initiative to meet updated state, federal and industry best practices and guidelines to help prevent patients from getting infected by COVID-19 in their facilities. They also reached out to patients to let them know about their reopen guidelines. 

The new challenge for non-acute is keeping lines of communication open so patients feel confident seeking treatment. Maintaining patient trust must continue to be a priority through all phases of COVID-19, and even after the pandemic has gone away.

Communications can include responding to common patient concerns. Patients have most likely been asking their providers questions about the virus and how their offices are responding. Facilities can provide answers to frequently asked questions, then proactively share them with all patients and post the information on their websites. 

The coronavirus continues to dominate the news and social media, which causes anxiety with some patients. Those in high-risk categories may be especially hesitant to return and will need extra reassurance that the provider is taking preventative measures to mitigate the virus inside their facility.


Office procedures were updated and new best practices were implemented during the pandemic. Many of these may become standard operating procedures going forward, even after the virus is mitigated. For example, many facilities are realizing the benefits of changing their waiting rooms and will probably make those changes permanent. 

These changes include having patients arrive just in time for their appointments, then wait in their vehicles until they are texted or otherwise notified that they may come into the office. Inside, waiting rooms are divided into areas for patients who are there for a routine checkup and those who are actually sick. This is an evolution of waiting rooms that had patients who had or potentially had COVID-19 socially distanced from other patients by being in a separate waiting area. Social distancing measures will probably continue into the future for facilities.

Facilities should keep a running list of best practices, communications and procedures that have been the most effective throughout the pandemic. They can continually build off this list to evolve the protocols and procedures that best resonate with patients and help foster trust.  


When reaching out to patients, all communications must be clear, easy to understand and consistent across all channels. For example, messaging in emails must match the information on the facility’s website and in mailers.

All patient interactions, whether delivered electronically, over the phone or in person, must be compassionate and convey understanding. Patients may have questions about COVID-19 or office changes, and they need to be reassured about prevention procedures before returning to the facility. This requires clinicians, office managers or someone else in the facility to actively listen to patient concerns, then provide answers. The questions patients had at the start of the pandemic may be very different from the ones they have now. 

Facilities should also share how their appointment priorities are changing. Now that most providers have been open a while, booking preferences may be shifting to include a broader range of needs, and this should be communicated to patients.

“When reaching out to patients, all communications must be clear, easy to understand and consistent across all channels.”


Many patient expectations and concerns are different now than before the pandemic. Despite best efforts by facilities, some patients will not feel comfortable returning to a facility until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. Providers can let patients know about other healthcare options, such as telehealth, to avoid disrupting their continuum of care.

For all other patients, continuous outreach and detailing the facility’s ongoing efforts to protect against the virus can ease patient concerns about in-person visits. The communications will nurture patient trust during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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