There’s no magic vaccine yet. The dreaded third wave of COVID-19 is upon us. Nurses continue to be in short supply. An epidemic of stress compounds the stress of the pandemic—both with long-term consequences. Healthcare marketing during a pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us and requires a different, yet more basic approach.
To be effective at healthcare marketing during a pandemic, start by shifting your strategy back to the basics in order to regain patients’ trust that their health and wellbeing are paramount.
Throw last year’s strategy out the window. In this new normal, communicate openly, authoritatively and compassionately. We’re in a new brand world where accolades and tone-deaf messages fail to inspire safety, trust and credibility. As a result, people want facts about prevention, symptoms, testing and treatment.
The Pandemic Has Changed Patient and Consumer Behavior
We have talked about digital transformation in healthcare for years. One of the few positives swept in by COVID-19 has been the significant change in consumer behavior. As people stayed away from hospitals and doctors’ offices over fears of contracting the virus, the industry began implementing telehealth options.
Now that it’s here, it’s not likely to go away. Providers who want to stay ahead of the competition—particularly retail providers—and remain relevant to their consumers need to act quickly and decisively to implement telehealth platforms.
Whether you’re offering tele-visits, digital monitoring on mobile apps or touch-free triage, market the technology. Drive consumers online to make appointments, update medical records, check vitals and talk with their providers. Patients want to feel safe and cared for at every touchpoint.
Make sure instructions to patients are clear. Test and retest the steps to ensure that everything works as intended.
Your website remains the front door for patients. Continually update information about:
- Safety procedures
- Appointment scheduling
- Procedures for in-person and virtual visits
- Accommodations for elective and non-elective procedures
- General COVID-19 information
Be Mindful of Both Physical and Mental Health
The pandemic’s far-reaching disruption of our physical and financial health has dramatically impacted our mental health.
The American Psychological Association recently released a survey that shows 78 percent—or 8-in-10 Americans—label coronavirus as a significant source of stress in their lives. Another study reveals respondents labeling their mood swings as 50 percent anxiety, 32 percent sadness, 27 percent fear, 25 percent anger and experiencing joy only 10 percent of the time.
Prominently feature mental health resources, including those offered outside your system, in service line marketing. Patients want to know where and how to seek care. The ability to cut through the noise and provide them with information and options is essential to fostering brand trust.
Tell Your Healthcare Facility’s Story
Number fatigue and politicizing COVID-19 have worn us down.
Now is a good time to renew the basic tenet of public relations—tell a good story. Leverage stories of hope from your patients and front-line heroes across all channels—social content, videos and media pitches.
Focus on the Facts in Your Healthcare Marketing
The American public has grown weary and leery of conflicting information about the coronavirus.
While we await the arrival of a vaccine, develop your strategy for delivering the vaccine to your community. The public may have lost confidence in national healthcare leaders, but they yearn for fact-based guidance and assurance that someone is watching out for their wellbeing.
Plan Your Marketing for the Long Term
To stay ahead of the competition and remain relevant to consumers, what you do now to meet consumer demand can mitigate some of the uncertainty about long-term financial viability.
Earlier this year, we stated that, “Email is where it’s at.” We stand by that statement. With work from home, virtual school and a need for connection, consumers of all ages continuously check emails.
We’ve long advocated for meeting the consumer where they are. For now, healthcare marketing during a pandemic should focus efforts online—through emails, optimization, social media and, to a lesser extent, banner ads.
As we remain remote and socially distanced, virtual interaction is the best interpersonal platform for telling our story.