How to Increase Patient Engagement in Healthcare During COVID-19

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Consumer Engagement | 0 comments

Most of us are aware that consumers are hesitant or afraid to pursue elective care during the pandemic. Quell their concerns and bring your health system to top-of-mind with relevant and important content.

We’ve all seen the con­cern­ing sta­tis­tics on declin­ing rates of emer­gency room encoun­ters for heart attack symp­toms and oth­er urgent con­di­tions. Many peo­ple have been delay­ing crit­i­cal care as well as pro­ce­dures to alle­vi­ate chron­ic con­di­tions for sev­er­al months, and as a result: mental fatigue and phys­i­cal pain are tak­ing a toll.

Now more than ever, health­care providers must focus on patient engage­ment best prac­tices dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times.

There are three key cat­e­gories of patients that should be top of mind when plan­ning your con­sumer engage­ment strate­gies right now: those liv­ing with chron­ic con­di­tions, those who need rou­tine med­ical care and pediatrics.

Chronic Disease Management

Chron­ic dis­ease man­age­ment is a chal­leng­ing but crit­i­cal task for health sys­tems across the coun­try. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true as sys­tems are part of more val­ue-based con­tracts. Ensur­ing that patients are seen reg­u­lar­ly by their providers and that they have the tools they need to adhere to treat­ment plans for con­di­tions like dia­betes, chron­ic heart fail­ure and high blood pres­sure are crit­i­cal patient engage­ment best prac­tices. These have become more chal­leng­ing dur­ing the pan­dem­ic as many at-risk con­sumers are delay­ing appointments.

Here are a few ways mar­keters can sup­port clin­i­cians in the task to increase patient engage­ment and sup­port healthy out­comes over the next few months:

  • Clear­ly com­mu­ni­cate the tele­health options avail­able to patients. Be proac­tive in your quest to dri­ve uti­liza­tion. In-per­son care will most like­ly be nec­es­sary at some point dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Make sure your most vul­ner­a­ble patients have access to the infor­ma­tion they need. Answer ques­tions relat­ed to how to arrange trans­porta­tion, what the check-in process looks like, how many (if any) vis­i­tors can accom­pa­ny them and oth­er issues that can impact their care.
  • Make the expe­ri­ence as fric­tion­less as pos­si­ble, both in-per­son and vir­tu­al­ly. Vir­tu­al wait­ing rooms are as annoy­ing as sit­ting in a lob­by. Access­ing the care itself should be easy for patients of all ages. Set up a sys­tem that ben­e­fits your patients and con­sid­ers their time.
  • Fre­quent­ly com­mu­ni­cate the impor­tance of pre­ven­tive care mea­sures. Rou­tine pro­ce­dures such as flu shots and oth­er vac­cines, annu­al mam­mo­grams and more should be pro­mot­ed. Pre­vent­ing the flu and detect­ing life-threat­en­ing can­cer ear­ly are arguably as impor­tant as avoid­ing the spread of COVID-19 for our at-risk communities.


Search vol­ume for top­ics like “can I skip my kids’ vac­cines this year?” is high­er than ever. As we head back to school, par­ents across the coun­try are grap­pling with tough choic­es about school, social events and sports par­tic­i­pa­tion. Worse even, they are skip­ping crit­i­cal well vis­its, vac­ci­na­tions and phys­i­cals for these chil­dren. Devel­op­ing patient engage­ment ideas for this audi­ence is key, and there are two approach­es mar­keters can take to dri­ve engagement.

First, work with your oper­a­tions team on eBlasts to exist­ing patients. In par­tic­u­lar, we’ve found trig­ger cam­paigns that deploy when vac­cines are due to be high­ly effec­tive for increas­ing patient engage­ment. Chances are, fam­i­lies are already get­ting out­reach from you for this, but mar­keters have a unique abil­i­ty to craft mes­sages that dri­ve behav­ior change that should be lever­aged right now.

Sec­ond, your con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy and social cam­paigns should include this top­ic as a focus. Blog posts that are craft­ed with par­ents in mind and tar­get­ed via Face­book and Insta­gram will reach your tar­get demo­graph­ic with con­tent that inspires action.

Here are a few turnkey top­ics that can sup­port patient engage­ment best practices:

  • Crit­i­cal vac­cines no child under 18 should miss
  • Key items to send your child back to school with, includ­ing wipes, san­i­tiz­er and more
  • Hal­loween dur­ing a pan­dem­ic: what to do with­out trick or treating?
  • Keep­ing kids active and at a healthy weight when sports are canceled

Annual Well Visits

If your orga­ni­za­tion is part of an ACO or CIN, has employ­er well­ness con­tracts, or offers a health plan, patient acti­va­tion is like­ly already on your radar. A num­ber of those con­tracts and plans incen­tivize both the patient and health sys­tem for annu­al well vis­its and on-time pre­ven­tive care uti­liza­tion. But, when it comes to dri­ving adher­ence, suc­cess rates are often alarm­ing­ly low. Par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing a pan­dem­ic, it’s hard for patients to see the val­ue of rou­tine vis­its and pre­ven­tive care, and fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion through the right chan­nels is critical.

Here are a few ways to reach your tar­get audi­ence with mes­sages that dri­ve action:

  • eBlasts to known patient lists that com­mu­ni­cate the val­ue of rou­tine care, plus how to access it
  • Vir­tu­al vis­its options for as many rou­tines and pre­ven­tive vis­its as is practical
  • Con­tent on employ­ee por­tals and in newslet­ters that com­mu­ni­cates dead­lines and how to access care
  • Health risk assess­ments (HRAs) to help bridge the gap between health risk and health care (learn how Bap­tist Health used HRAs to nur­ture new leads)
  • Direct mail, par­tic­u­lar­ly for the medicare audi­ences, that clear­ly com­mu­ni­cates dead­lines and how to access the nec­es­sary care
  • Prac­tice out­reach via the phone to patients who have not had their annu­al vis­it yet or who are due for some form of screening

EVOLVE Your Patient Engagement Strategies

We rec­om­mend start­ing with these three seg­ments as part of your patient acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy, but each piece of advice can apply to your engage­ment and growth goals for par­tic­u­lar ser­vice lines or audi­ences, too.

We’re Here to Help You Increase Patient Engagement

If you need a hand with con­tent strat­e­gy and cam­paign exe­cu­tion, let us know. We’ll be hap­py to share addi­tion­al patient engage­ment top­ics and ideas for your unique challenges.

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