As with much of normal life, the novel coronavirus has disrupted regular operations for healthcare organizations nationwide. Now your organization is likely limiting, postponing, or canceling services that don’t have to do with COVID-19.
Not everyone can simply stay away from the hospital or the doctor’s office. Even in the time of pandemics and social distancing, many patients with complex, serious, or time-sensitive conditions don’t have the option of waiting for the coronavirus to pass before continuing their care.
You must continue your marketing efforts to these patients and maintain the image of your organization as a strong, trusted healthcare provider during this challenging time. This post will examine the information you should share to calm consumers’ fears, as well as the methods you should use to reach these users.
Reassure Healthcare Consumers About Your Safety Procedures
Healthcare systems nationwide have implemented numerous protocols to keep patients and visitors safe during the pandemic. While hospitals have long had visitor policies that request people not visit if they’ve had a fever within the past 24 or 48 hours, these usually have relied on the visitors themselves to be aware and take action. Today, you may have instituted temperature screenings, travel histories, and other precautions before anyone can enter.
Other systems have set up triage units away from regular emergency departments to help keep those suspected of having the coronavirus separated from those who aren’t to minimize exposure and transmission. And some organizations, hard-hit by the wave of demand for COVID-19-related care, have pressed student and retired providers into service to help bolster their forces.
You absolutely should tell your consumers and community members about these and other steps you’re taking to keep them safe during this trying time. Make sure they know these requirements are aligned with or even more stringent than those recommended by well-known national authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Unscrupulous businesses are taking advantage of people’s fears during the pandemic to try to make a quick buck, such as scammers who claim they can send users home kits for coronavirus vaccines or treatments. In addition to reporting these bad actors to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), don’t hesitate to refute unfounded, misleading, or outright false claims about COVID-19 from service providers in your area.
Innovate to Inform During the Pandemic
Members of your community are eager for information about COVID-19 and how it affects them, and they want to hear that information from your providers. Local healthcare experts are among the most-trusted sources of reliable information about the pandemic. But in order to reap the benefits of that trusting relationship, your message has to reach consumers where they are.
Historically, we’ve seen that healthcare organizations are more cautious than those in other industries when it comes to innovation, particularly digital innovation. But in a crisis like this, when you’re trying to reach consumers who may never have set foot in your hospitals or physicians’ offices before, it’s time to try anything to get the word out. If you’ve never had an email newsletter before, try putting one together with your latest coronavirus updates, and give your website visitors the chance to sign up. Interview your subject-matter experts (SMEs) in infectious diseases, pulmonology, or other specialties that directly relate to COVID-19. Ask them about symptoms, risk factors, and steps for protection, as well as other questions your users are asking, and use these interviews for podcasts or YouTube videos.
As you experiment with these messaging outlets, keep an eye on how the audience engages with them. You may find that some of these channels earn a place in your regular marketing plans, while others can safely be retired or held in reserve for the next health emergency.
For more about adjustments to your marketing strategy, review our previous blog article: COVID-19: Changes and Constants in Healthcare Marketing.
Spread the Word About Keeping People Safe
The coronavirus crisis means more people than ever are concerned about their health and looking to healthcare experts for advice on how to protect themselves. By sharing what your team is doing to help keep consumers safe, you’ll continue to position your organization as a healthcare leader in the communities you serve, both during the pandemic and beyond.
We’re happy to support your communications strategy or digital innovations during this challenging time. Please let us know what help you need.