November 24, 2020
Confronting the New COVID-19 Surge: 5 Communications Considerations for Healthcare Leaders
With the holidays upon us, healthcare leaders and workers are facing a nightmare scenario: Already high COVID infections will surge to new heights in the wake of holidays gatherings.
Healthcare workers who are already exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally will be left to care for patients who did not heed the warnings of public health officials. And healthcare leaders face a daunting array of high-stakes communications challenges that must be thoughtfully navigated.
We are focusing our attention on five areas where communications can help your organization confront the COVID-19 surge and prepare for other imminent milestones:
- Workforce resiliency and support. Healthcare workers are drained. To make matters worse, many people continue to ignore public health recommendations that would help limit the spread of the virus. That leaves already-exhausted healthcare workers to deal with the consequences – potentially even including rationing of care. Healthcare leaders need to make sure their employees have access to mental health resources. We are helping organizations take stock of their employees and provide them with much needed support. Our new volume of The Art of Change addresses this critical issue, with both high-level context and practical insights. (We will continue to add to this volume over the course of the next month as we evaluate the pandemic’s ongoing toll on our employees.)
- Prepare communications for the most likely COVID scenarios. It’s a bit of déjà vu for healthcare leaders: needing to prepare communications for suspending services, limiting visitation, staffing shortages, calling in COVID-19-positive but asymptomatic caregivers to work, capacity issues, facility closures, remote work and even the possibility of rationing care. We can help you prepare for these scenarios and others by proactively developing talking points, FAQs, memos, media materials and more.
- Share your safety message. Patients need to feel safe so that life-saving care is not delayed. We are helping healthcare organizations develop and share their safety message by highlighting tactics like mask requirements, isolation of COVID patients, enhanced cleaning procedures, etc. Patients need to continue hearing these messages.
- Be the healthcare voice of authority in your community. With the election over and COVID infections surging, the media is again focusing on the virus. Use media interest to your advantage. We are working with clients to provide regular media and community leaders briefings. This will rightly position your organization as the community healthcare expert and will give you the ability to lay the groundwork for strategic issues like public health, your caregivers’ commitment and additional government funding.
- Develop a communications strategy for the next hot button issues: vaccine distribution and the January 1 CMS price transparency rule. In a matter of weeks your organization will be tasked with sharing information about these issues. We are working with clients to develop messages for internal and external audiences, communications toolkits with talking points, FAQs memos, media statement and communications cadences.
We know the challenges you face are daunting, and we are here to help.