Jarrard Inc. Daily Counsel

How do I help my staff respond to COVID-19 misinformation?

Misinformation can be deadly in a healthcare crisis.

Look no further than headlines to see proof of that. Case in point: misinformation about an aquarium cleaning solution’s capability to prevent coronavirus caused an Arizona man’s untimely death.

Healthcare providers are trusted sources of information in their local communities. But, are your employees up for the challenge of communicating the most up-to-date information?

Here are five tips to empower your physicians and staff to combat deadly misinformation:

  • Make it easy for them to share. Incorporate links to your organization’s social posts into emails that employees can post on their personal social media with suggested copy that includes any disclosures required by your social media policy.
  • Create a printable PDF poster. Suggest employees keep copies with them and share with drive-thru staff and grocery store clerks or email to their neighborhood groups, churches, schools and clubs.
  • Welcome questions and curiosity. Staff should understand how to ask any questions they or their friends and family may have about COVID-19. Keep the latest information on your intranet or Epic homepage to make it easy to find answers.
  • Make “I don’t know” OK. There’s a lot we don’t know. That even the smartest researchers in the world don’t know. It’s ok to say you don’t know. When you do, clearly communicate that and offer some guidance on when you may know or refer to a trusted source (like the CDC) for additional information.
  • And finally, ask from a place of gratitude. Hospital staff are under significant stress. If you’re asking them to do even more, be sure to recognize and appreciate their dedication to their job. It’s also a great opportunity to reference your organization’s mission, vision and values.

Examples: We have spoken with several health systems that have created external tip sheets to circulate to staff and to community partners to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. These one-pagers provide helpful links and simple tips in clear, concise language that can be translated into multiple languages and understood by both children and adults.

Emily Shirden