How to Discuss Coronavirus with Patients

First and possibly most important, whether you're trying to get ahead of things, or responding to a patient's concern, be empathetic.

Updated March 24, 2020

First and possibly most important, whether you’re trying to get ahead of things, or responding to a patient’s concern, be empathetic. We likely have our own fears about how this health event will impact our personal and professional lives, and so do our patients. Speaking with empathy will generate a more positive, receptive response than being presumptuous, or preachy, about someone’s concerns.


Acknowledging you’re aware of the issue, have thought through potential challenges, and are providing actionable advice to your patients is reassuring and builds confidence. You can share the information from this article in an email to your patients or on social media to let them know you are aware of their concerns and are actively looking out for them.


If a patient calls or emails with concerns, here are talking points you can share to reassure them.

  1. According to the CDC, the people most vulnerable to coronavirus are older adults, pregnant women and people with conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. However, other ages and people without other conditions have also been hospitalized, so it’s important for everyone to take precautions.
  2. Coronavirus is shared primarily through touch. We take steps to ensure you – and we – are safe by:
    1. Having professional cleaners come in each night.
    2. Disinfecting all surfaces before and after each patient and visitor.
    3. Washing our hands constantly.
  3. If anyone on our staff feels even slightly sick, they know they are expected to stay home.
  4. We call or email each of our scheduled patients before they come in to let them know what we’re doing to protect them, and to request that they reschedule if they or anyone in their household is feeling unwell.
  5. Discuss any other steps you’ve chosen to take, such as seeing one patient at a time and having others wait in the car until their appointment and social distancing waiting room chairs.

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