In an article about how to advertise during a pandemic,The Atlanticreports that consumers are "grateful for the information about pandemic-related services and safety procedures," and that they appreciate the companies that disseminate this information.
Across industries, such findings are as true for employees as they are for consumers — this is especially pronounced in healthcare. As noted in apost for Harvard Health Publishing, people who work in healthcare experience the same pandemic-related stressors as everyone else. Theirs, however, are compounded by the fear of an increased risk of infection, along with concerns they might carry the virus home and infect family members or neighbors. Other worries center around the availability of PPE, the need to work longer hours as colleagues become ill or are quarantined, and the ability to make sense of continually shifting recommendations from public health experts and political leaders.
Common to each of these stressors is uncertainty. "When certainty is questioned, your stress response goes haywire, instantly arousing your fight-or-flight reaction, kicking you in the pants in an attempt to spur you to action and get you to safety," writes Bryan Robinson in Forbes. "Waiting for certainty can feel like torture by a million tiny cuts."
With certainty in limited supply, healthcare brands can offer patients and employees the next best thing — essential information to counter the uncertainty of altered norms and expectations. AsPsychology Today explains, "In times of uncertainty, seeking additional information makes sense and can reduce anxiety."
Here are two key topics you can address to help keep that fight-or-flight reaction from driving away prospective patients and employees.
Publicize your company's safety protocols.
Clearly delineating safety protocols across all channels is essential. Asoutlined in Forbes, "This pandemic is a wake-up call for employers to carefully review the policies, procedures, and strategies in place to protect staff, customers, and operations in this and future crises."
"Tactical responses should be designed to address new and shifting values, such as physical distancing, with respect to patients, families, caregivers, and providers," writes Premier, a healthcare improvement company.
It's imperative that your healthcare organization has a system in place for sharing this information across all online touchpoints, so patients can find the answers they need, no matter where they search. Now is the time to review how you maintain, update, and disseminate information across the web.
Embrace telemedicine and other technology-driven care options where possible — and make sure prospective employees and patients know about it.
AARP writes that medical professionals are "closing their offices and opening their laptops" to provide care to millions of people who are sheltering at home to slow the spread of the virus. Telemedicine (e.g., email, video conferencing, online patient portals, and other technologies) has been around for decades, both as a means of connecting physicians with rural patients and for doctors to discuss treatment plans. More recently, predictive diagnostics, wearable sensors, and a variety of health apps have made inroads into the world of traditional medicine.
In an article outlining what businesses can do now tothrive post-pandemic, Crain's Detroit Business reports that although "telehealth is a concept most organizations and people are still getting comfortable with," there is no question that "the strain on the healthcare system, and the risk of in-person care to providers and patients, is likely to accelerate this trend into the mainstream." In considering what U.S. healthcare will look like after the pandemic, theHarvard Business Review argues, "Telemedicine is not an inferior substitute for face-to-face care but rather simply a different technology to use in delivering it."
Crain's also notes that because senior-care communities have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19, more individuals may choose to stay home in the future, upping vacancy rates and requiring a change in the ways people receive care — creating more demand for in-home health care providers and in-home health care equipment.Business Insider analysts agree, pointing out that because home healthcare involves so much — everything from bathing and dressing, to skilled nursing and administering medications — virtual tech is currently unable to replace many aspects of healthcare and can only extend so far.
That's true of assisted living centers as well. As a result,the Wall Street Journalreports that executives at nursing homes and senior-housing communities are increasingly leaning on telemedicine to provide care while protecting vulnerable residents. Some operators are becoming healthcare "concierges," with staff being trained to use more-sophisticated telehealth equipment.
Whether you love it or hate it, telemedicine is here to stay. Make sure you audit where your organization is already using it effectively, and where there's room to grow.
And since stringent (and ever-evolving) safety and hygiene protocols aren't going anywhere either, people will be asking questions about them. They'll also continue to have questions about how your company keeps workers and patients safe. Delivering accurate, updated answers to these important questions will help your healthcare organization build patient — and employee – trust in this critical moment.