The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the world in varying ways. Even as some areas are seeing reduced rates of infection and health systems begin to “reopen,” there is a primary concern among consumers:
“Is it safe to go to the hospital if I’m sick? What about COVID-19?”
Many healthcare providers have growing concerns about patients who are delaying care out of fear. It’s a sentiment reflected by a Los Angeles billboard sent to us recently by a client: “Concerts are put on hold. Going to your doctor shouldn’t be.”
More than anything, the patient community wants reassurance from reliable, authoritative sources—and hospital leadership can meet that demand with relevant, targeted patient and community email communications programs.
Using Email to Inform Both Patients and Physicians
Email allows you to communicate with the patient population and provide relevant updates surrounding hospital and clinic protocols. For example, we’ve seen a positive response among hospital clients deploying messaging about:
- Emergency room protocols and safety measures, such as a separate ER area for patients suspected of being infected with the virus or who have tested positive
- Urging cancer patients who ceased treatments for fear of contracting the virus to resume therapies--and providing them with robust information about why it’s safe to do so
- Reassurance about scheduling elective procedures that were put on hold during the crisis
- Virus control measures like heightened sanitation, screening procedures (e.g. temperature checks and Q&A prior to entering a facility), socially-distanced waiting rooms, masking requirements
- Telehealth options for applicable check-ups
During a virtual roundtable discussion facilitated by DMD earlier this year, healthcare marketers from some of the top-ranking health systems around the nation reinforced the message that patients are not only receptive to hearing from their doctors—they’re anxiously awaiting that outreach. Equally, healthcare professionals within these systems are eager to convey the reassurance and confidence health systems are able to provide to consumers. By tailoring messaging to your internal audience, along with patients in the surrounding communities, you’re empowering physicians and other staff members to meet patients’ questions with informed, confident, and comforting answers.
Targeting Ailment-Specific Populations
Amidst ailment-specific populations who are considered “high risk” for COVID-19, communication that clarifies the specific steps hospitals are taking to keep everyone safe can make a real difference. DMD has helped health systems deliver opted-in, self-declared, geo-targeted patient ailment audience data to engage the right patients with accurate and relevant messaging. Specific topics based on ailment data include:
- Addressing specific health concerns among consumers with respiratory ailments, cancer, and other immuno-compromised conditions. Seniors encompass another population that would benefit from these communications.
- Updating prospective patients about key service lines and how to keep healthy during the crisis while they wait for those services to resume (e.g. nutrition tips for obese and/or prediabetic patients, psychiatric resources for mental health patients).
Of course, outreach doesn’t have to be limited to these audiences—nor these topics. A wider selection of our opted-in patient and caregiver segments in your geographic service area can provide broader coverage. And, if your marketing department has experienced a reduction in resources, DMD can also provide full creative and email deployment services to make this critical consumer outreach as turnkey as possible.
Taking a Community-Focused, Patient-First Attitude
Health systems are in a unique leadership position. The measures they have taken to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis have been admirable, even heroic at times. But, people are still wary of prioritizing their health over potential risk of infection. Patients want access to services, but they also want to trust you’re doing everything to protect their safety.
Patients want reassurance from reliable, authoritative sources.
This is more than anecdotal. In July, data gathered from DMD’s AIM XR shows that HCPs are increasingly engaging with content about patients’ anxieties surrounding COVID-19.
No one should put their health on hold when there are perfectly secure options available. By providing the most recent public health information around the virus and how your health system is helping to keep the community safe, you are not only ensuring reinstatement of services (and recaptured revenue), you’re truly providing a public service.