Bi-Weekly COVID-19 Roundup: May 23, 2020
There are some insights you can only get when you have real conversations with consumers.
We supplemented our recent survey work with a round of actual one-hour interviews, asking consumers about their readiness to return to a care setting.
These consumers, who either had a surgery delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions, or who need surgery now, told us all about their fears, hopes, and expectations. You can download the qualitative research findings report here.
Communicating about COVID-19
1. Collaborating with other health systems to keep early detection top-of-mind.
What we’re hearing: Across the nation, competing health systems are finding themselves in similar situations: tactfully reopening while wondering when patient volume will return to normal. Now that the national peak of COVID-19 cases is likely behind us, hospital leaders and public health officials are concerned about the number of consumers that have delayed care and don’t seem to be returning even now as healthcare facilities are open again. Alliances have begun to form in key markets like LA, where health systems have decided that a collective message is more powerful than their individual messages. Together, they are communicating that consumers should get the care they need when they need it.
Communications takeaway: We know local healthcare experts are the No. 1 trusted resource for information about COVID-19, but as hospitals look to reinitiate operations outside of COVID-19, consumers are now hesitant to believe a hospital when they announce they’re back open, safe, and firing on all cylinders. If your leadership is looking to establish an alliance of care providers in your market to achieve a “rising tide lifts all boats” initiative, be sure to actively plan a collective message for the rollout — equipped with localized and research-tested content that will strike the right chord in your community.
2. Embracing contact tracing.
What we’re hearing: Contact tracing has dominated the big tech discourse during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising up as one of the most substantial contributions Silicon Valley can make as it relates to safely reopening the country. Meanwhile, in New York, the Mayor has stripped control of contact tracing from the health department and put it in the hands of hospitals. As we look to reopen the nation responsibly, hospitals will have an opportunity to collaborate with innovative technology players like Apple and Google, creating an ecosystem where smartphones help keep consumers informed about their exposure.
Communications takeaway: Approaches to contact tracing will vary state by state, but it’s likely that healthcare consumers will take their cues from local healthcare experts when it comes to their adoption. As health system marketers and communicators, we have a role in helping educate our communities about how contact tracing can protect people and communities against the spread of COVID-19. For years, we’ve encouraged health systems to move from sick brands to health brands, and in a COVID-19 recovery blitz, it can be challenging to see the opportunities to put this into practice. Communicating about contact tracing could be an opportunity to lead — highlighting the importance of adoption, as solutions mature.
3. Restoring the medical supply chain.
What we’re hearing: The White House has signed a $354 million, four-year contract with an American pharmaceutical company to ramp up American production of COVID-19 medication in an attempt to prevent any potential supply chain shortages. As this aid helps fill in some supply chain gaps, questions are beginning to surface about preparing supplies for a potential resurgence of the novel coronavirus — are there preemptive supply chain measures that should be taken? As communicators, what scenarios should we prepare for?
Communications takeaway: Any effort to strengthen our strained supply chain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic should be celebrated, but as we know, this support may not be enough when it comes to PPE. While we can’t rewind and manage our communications during the spring spike differently, we can take learnings and plan to apply them if a resurgence occurs. For this, we recommend asking these questions, in service of a strong contingency plan for any future outbreak:
- What did I wish I knew before COVID-19 that would have helped me communicate better?
- What did we do well? What worked, and would I do it again?
- What didn’t work, and what gaps were uncovered throughout this pandemic?
Preparing this way will help you get a step ahead of the game in mapping out how you might communicate during a second wave while the flu season is in full swing.