Weekly Comms Report — The Political Frenzy
Last weekend, we learned just how hard it is to keep COVID-19 contained. The virus has been politicized even further as it infiltrated the White House — and research-based real talk is getting harder to find. If you’re looking for solid facts about consumer sentiment related to the upcoming election and how it should impact your marketing and communication strategies, you’ll want to join our live show tomorrow at 12PM CT with our guest Jarrett Lewis. He specializes in health policy and consumerism and always steals the show.
In addition to the political frenzy, we’re also hearing about nurse union advocacy, long-term COVID-19 effects, and the danger of asymptomatic cases leading to a faster spread.
Communicating about COVID-19
1. Nurses are calling attention to the damage of this virus — specifically to nurses of color.
What we’re hearing: National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union, is sounding the alarm after a new report shows nurses of color made up more than half of nurse deaths due to COVID-19, despite only making up 24.1% of the workforce.
Communications takeaway: We’ve talked a lot about the virus’ disproportional impact on communities of color and have encouraged health systems to provide support and ways to minimize the impact through population health programs. But this new study begs the question – how are health systems supporting people of color within its own four walls? Don’t shy away from discussions around staff vulnerabilities. And look for meaningful actions you can take to help those most at risk. Finally, prepare yourself for difficult questions — especially among unionized team members — by developing a strong internal communication plan.
2. COVID-19 remains mysterious, and health systems find ways to support consumers anyway.
What we’re hearing: But as time goes on, it is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 can cause damage in the heart, lungs, and the long-lasting effects are still unclear.
Communications takeaway: Health systems should evaluate what they are doing to get ahead of what may prove to be significant future health concerns as a result of COVID-19. Consider communicating about the greater need for preventive care moving forward, targeting those who have been infected, and demonstrating how your health system can help patients stay on top of their health. Some health systems are even standing up new service offerings to help patients manage the longer-term impacts of COVID-19, be it is physical or emotional. These post-COVID programs also give physicians an opportunity to learn more about how to best treat recovered COVID-19 patients.
3. The threat of asymptomatic spread looms as testing protocols loosen.
What we’re hearing: A new study has found that almost half – 40 percent – of healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic, furthering concerns for future outbreaks, especially as we head into a dangerous flu season.
Communications takeaway: An outbreak of any kind is a huge reputational risk for health systems. But, seven months into the pandemic, employees and the public may be even more inclined to raise concerns related to a lack of testing protocols and policies for health system employees should an outbreak occur. Health systems must be prepared to answer questions on preventive measures, their approach to testing, and remain transparent about changing policies moving forward. And if an outbreak occurs, systems need to work closely with local and state health agencies and communicate openly to team members about what is happening and what measures to take.