Post-COVID Healthcare Marketing: 6 Things You Can Do Now
If your healthcare practice is still putting out the, “We’re in this together” message, you’re too late. We’re over it. That was so March. It’s time to focus on strategy, messaging and tactics for our rapidly approaching reopening, and radically different, new world.
It’s reported that Emergency Room visits are down 50% or more in some areas—people who would have normally gone to a hospital with belly or chest pain, trauma or other potentially serious healthcare issues are forgoing care. And, according to the American Hospital Association, “We have in large part paused and postponed elective and non-emergent care… It is important to recognize that so-called elective care or scheduled care often involves providing lifesaving treatments and procedures that are necessary to save lives and keep people healthy.”
There is pent-up patient demand all across the country and in every specialty. Depending on your location, that means you have anywhere from two to six weeks to ensure that existing patients return to you, and prospective patients choose you over other options.
Here are six simple things your practice should be doing right now:
1. Maintain your crisis communication tone and message over “brand.” Patients aren’t ready for business-as-usual or slick, awareness-building marketing campaigns. Timely, authentic and consistent communication will continue to be the best choice for the foreseeable future.
2. Anticipate and mitigate patient objections to accessing healthcare. There are a lot of reasons that patients have—and will continue—to forgo urgent, elective and routine care. Below are just a few questions patients may be asking:
Are you taking the temperature of patients before they enter the building or office suite?
Will I have to wait in a common waiting room, or is there in-room registration?
Will I be given/required to wear a mask when I enter the office?
Can someone accompany me to the appointment? If so, what are the rules for that person?
Have any of your providers or staff tested positive and now are they immune?
3. Live Stream a Patient Town Hall Meeting on Facebook. Social media is where it’s at in our all-virtual world. Take advantage by having your patients interact with your providers and practice leadership—answer all of the questions above, and allow patients to ask questions about how your practice will conduct business going forward.
4. Personally reach out to high-risk patients. Sending mass text messages might seem like a good idea, but do you want your patients to feel like just another number? Nothing beats a phone call from your trusted nurse, nurse practitioner or physician to discuss your health. And, you can personally answer the questions outlined above, helping to overcome fears.
5. For PCPs and specialty practices, offer extended hours. Are your providers willing to meet patients very early in the morning, in the evening and on the weekends for the next few months? For some patients (especially over age 60 and those with underlying health conditions), coming to your office at a time when there are very few other people there may be the only acceptable option. If your practice isn’t willing to do this, then you should be prepared for those patients to find a provider who will.
6. Change your website front page. Your website is your most powerful marketing tool. Our world has changed and your website should acknowledge and reflect this. If your website has a little emergency message bar at the top, know that people are beginning to tune those out. Change a photo, change your headline or change a message, anything to indicate to your patients that you know COVID has changed how you practice medicine.
There is no reason for any healthcare marketer to be bored or binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy—it’s going to be a whole new world out there for patients and communication professionals. Let’s make sure we’re ready for it.