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Updating and Maintaining Healthcare Websites, Portals & Hotlines for COVID-19 Communications

To help healthcare systems and hospitals better provide updates and streamline communications with their communities, this article outlines how to update digital properties for COVID-19 communications, services, and more.

As marketers, we have so many ways to target consumers and get out our messages. Our “martech stacks” are a boon to our day-to-day business, but in this time of crisis when there’s so much new information to convey, the complex web of platforms and outlets we have assembled can present a challenge. Here are some tips to help you manage and optimize your communications channels—both old and new—during these challenging times.

Online Updates

Set a schedule and assign responsibilities for checking and updating web content on COVID-19. Make sure whatever you disseminate to the public is distributed to your switchboard, call centers, and customer service representatives so the information being conveyed is consistent. Also, listen to feedback from your community. Are they having trouble accessing certain information? Is your call center getting the same set of questions that people can’t locate online? Be sure to perform regular social listening and to capture feedback to learn what your community needs, and adjust your website as needed.

E-Newsletter

No doubt your COVID-19 content is driving repeat traffic to your site, but you should also give visitors a way to opt-in to receive daily updates on the pandemic and the state of your services. Create a new e-newsletter and provide information about how your organization is responding to the crisis. In each newsletter, include links and phone numbers to other essential public health resources. This daily push of information can ease anxiety, build trust and could foster brand loyalty in the future.

Automated Campaigns and Posts

If you use platforms like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to calendar automated posts into the future, consider turning them off to avoid an untimely message that could make your organization appear tone-deaf. The same goes for marketing automation campaigns. It may be time to cancel some, tweak copy in others, or even add new ones. Closely review what you’re scheduled to send out to avoid a blunder that could damage your brand, or misinform your community.

Patient Portals

Many portals enable patients to communicate directly with their physicians. Ensure your doctors are receiving and responding to these communications in a timely manner, especially now that the pandemic has likely disrupted their normal office operations. In addition, consider pushing important health and safety information out via your patient portal as it is likely one of your most direct lines to convey your most important communications

Coronavirus Calls from the Public

Is your switchboard overwhelmed by calls about COVID-19? Add a coronavirus option to the phone tree. Through regularly recorded messages, you can keep callers updated on your facility, services, visitation, and precautions. Don’t forget the phone lines at your ambulatory centers, too.

Coronavirus Calls from the Media

Is your public relations department overwhelmed by media seeking information? Create a recorded message on your PR phone line and set a schedule for updates around the clock. At the start of the recording, include the time of the update and close the message with the time of the next recording. Keep news deadlines in mind when you schedule your updates.

One last tip. Record and photograph your organization’s response to this crisis. Capture Command Center meetings, drive-thru virus screening, employees getting their temperature taken, environmental staff disinfecting the hospital and clinical teams putting on their personal protective equipment. You will likely find a good use for this material—for internal and external audiences—when marking the end of this crisis.

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Author: Kathleen Ahern

Kathleen leads Primacy’s healthcare strategy group. Her passion is helping entities harness the power of compelling messaging to connect with the people who are important to them – from consumers and customers, patients and doctors, to employees, executive team members, donors and board members.


Published March 2020

Category Healthcare
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