We are currently in the early stages of a Swine Flu pandemic and officials think it could get worse before it gets better. People around the globe, your patients, are scrambling for information about how this outbreak affects them and their families. How are you as a single or multi-physician group practice responding to this sudden need for information? In this post I’ll look at some ways you can leverage your practice website to help keep your patients informed during times of health uncertainty.
Go to the Source
It’s important during times of crisis, whether it be a true crisis or just some mild excitement, to keep our stories straight. You want to make sure you are passing accurate and valid information onto your patients so there is as little confusion as possible. A source for global health information is the World Health Organization. Beyond that you will want to refer to your own countries health organizations like the Center for Disease Control for information that pertains to your specific geographic location.
I’ve identified some links below from the WHO and CDC that you can post on your websites about the Swine Flu:
Swine Influenza and You (CDC) – http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm
Influenza A(H1N1) maintained by WHO – http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html
PandemicFlu.gov (maintained by U.S. Government) – http://www.pandemicflu.gov/
Get the Information Out
Now that you have some links and accurate information you need to find a way to get it out to your patients. Below are a few options:
One form of communication most everyone is familiar with is e-mail. If you collect e-mail addresses for your patients and have the ability to send a mass e-mail this is probably the quick and dirty option. You can include links and information specific to your practice or patients.
If your practice has a Twitter account or anything that has an integrated RSS feed this will work well to get the word out to your patients that keep track of those tools. Post a quick message to your Twitter account or news manager about how the Swine Flu affects them and what they can do to protect themselves and the next time your patients check their RSS feed reader they will see your update front and center.
Finally, if you want more of an “official” way of getting the word out you could always post an update to your website. One of the websites mentioned above, PandemicFlu.gov, has a widget that can be added to your own website to help keep your patients informed. A website update could be as simple as a note on the homepage or as complicated as a new page with details on the Swine Flu and links to resources for your patients.
Keep Your Patients Informed
In times of crisis communication is critical to keeping everyone calm and finding a solution to the problem at hand. During this, and future, global health incidents be sure to leverage your website and other Internet technologies to keep your patients informed and out of danger.
How are you handling the Swine Flu pandemic? If you are using other methods of communication or websites that wern’t mentioned in this post please let us know by leaving a comment.