4 COVID-19 marketing strategies for hospitals

How are health institutions reaching out during this pandemic? Here’s what is working and what trends should be observed.

Doctor sitting at office desk and working on his laptop with medical equipment all around, top view

Lately, whenever I listen to or read something related to how a hospital is handling COVID-19, I say aloud, “That was a really interesting idea!”

Now, after nine weeks into quarantine, my pots and pans have started to respond back to me: “That was! You should write it down.”

So, that’s what I’ve decided to do. Here’s what I’ve got:

Put doctors and nurses in the marketing spotlight. Before COVID-19, the trend in health care marketing centered on the idea of putting patients first. But this principle might be changing, especially with a renewed focus and appreciation for frontline staff.

“All this equity has been built up for healthcare workers and communities have rallied around their hospitals and providers,” says Dan Dunlop, principal of Jennings Healthcare Marketing, in this video. “As we produce creative content in a post-pandemic era, we expect clinicians to play a bigger role in marketing.”

Don’t forget to tell COVID-19 patient stories. As a health care marketer, one of my favorite assignments is writing patient stories. Recently, Kadesha Thomas Smith, CEO of CareContent, told her story about how she contracted COVID-19. Luckily, she was able to stay at home and recover. As a reader, it was so refreshing to hear a story like this—a story of hope, gratitude and getting back to “normal.”

Now that service line marketing is being put on hold, why not update your blog with stories from patients who came to your hospital and survived COVID-19?

Ramp up telehealth marketing services. Telehealth made a grand entrance (even though it’s been around for 40 years) in the wake of COVID-19. Now, it’s up to hospital marketers to let patients know that it’s available.

In this SHSMD podcast, Rachel Lott, director of marketing at Hillsdale Hospital, shares how she and her team were able to launch telehealth services to their rural community in less than a week. First, they showed how a telehealth appointment worked during a Facebook Live event, changed the six billboards around their county to advertise telehealth services and sent out 28,000 mailers about telehealth.

Email is a powerful tool. My healthcare insurance varies from year-to-year. Now that my email has been plugged into so many different healthcare systems in Chicago, I’ve been monitoring how hospitals send out communication around COVID-19. (This is one of my newest hobbies. There’s only so much bread a girl can bake.)

The emails that pack the must punch are the ones with a reassuring tone that acknowledges concern about scheduling an appointment, the steps they’ve taken to improve safety and why seeking emergency care shouldn’t be delayed. The only “bad” examples? The hospitals that don’t email me.

Jessica Levco is a freelance writer and editor on the health care industry, based in Chicago. A version of this article originally ran on her blog.

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