“Now’s not the time to get injured.” It’s a phrase I repeat in my head every time I’m chopping vegetables and crossing the street these days. Parents are sharing the same sentiments on social media about their children or significant others. But emergency care — along with all the other non-COVID-19 healthcare services lines — is still very needed. Our communities need to know they’ll be safe if and when they come to a facility. They also need to understand the best approach to take when they don’t have an emergency.
Consumers want and need relevant, up-to-date, informative messages delivered in a compassionate way. By guiding the community and getting ahead of the “what if” questions, healthcare providers can help ease anxieties and build confidence in the safety of their facilities. To do that, we need to deliver the information when and where patients need it most. Keep in mind, we should not be sending all the messages in all the channels — have a strategic plan for where each message lives.
Use existing media buys to push services. There are so many unknowns right now. What health services are available is just one of the questions consumers are asking themselves. While they may not need emergency care, they do need to know that your emergency department is open and safe, if the time comes. You can leverage your existing media buys to push out important campaigns like emergency, mental health and telehealth services.
Promote your service-line specific telehealth services. Launching telehealth services at systems around the nation is in overdrive. The remote care service is just as new to consumers as it is to a lot of providers. This is a great time to make patients aware that non-COVID-19 telehealth care is still available. Combine your service line messaging with communication about being able to “get it from home” or “through video chat.” Check our article Ideas for applying and marketing telehealth in the COVID-19 crisis by Sue Spaight, Core Health's Director of Research & Strategy. In it, Sue shares recommendations for marketing healthcare services that are vital to the messages delivered to your audiences.
Create ways for patients to get support and make sure they’re aware. While your patients may not be getting their elective procedures like bariatric surgery right now, they can be supported with virtual visits for services like nutritional counseling or support groups. The same goes for many other service lines. Providing support in other ways helps patients stay on top of their own health while maintaining the health of their families. To ensure consumers are aware of your services and how to access them, keep your website up-to-date, directly message patients and promote service lines they need the most (or that drive the greatest revenue when you need it the most). Explain how these appointments will be handled right away to eliminate uncertainty and build confidence in the safety of your facility.
Give clear, concise steps for each service. Patients are missing first-time visits to a primary care doctor or specialist. Some don’t know who to talk to about pre-existing conditions. Others are unsure if they should see a doctor. To prevent frustration, patients need clear, detailed steps on what they can and should do. When people have an action plan, they have less fear and more confidence. Consider updating all service line landing pages with the right steps they should take for each service line as well as information about how you’ll keep patients safe, if they need to come to a facility.
These recommendations apply today as well as after the COVID-19 social distancing recommendations. Giving your patients easy accessibility and options for care has always been important. Now, your community needs to know they have even greater accessibility and safety.
To get insights into how to communicate your messages, read How to communicate with frightened healthcare consumers during the COVID-19 crisis.