How to Move Beyond “Don’t Delay”
An Overview of Evolving Healthcare Messaging for ER & PCP
“Don’t Delay Care” was a critical call to action for healthcare marketers early in the pandemic. Now, more than a year into it, the tone in the market has shifted to empowering patients to choose health as soon as they have the opportunity to get a vaccine. To meet consumers with a campaign that feels relevant to their current concerns and needs, your messaging should shift as well. Here’s a quick overview of what we’re seeing and what you can do to adjust.
Emergency Room Messaging in Minutes
Despite some patients still avoiding in-person care, willingness to re-engage continues to improve. Nationally, hospital utilization had declined 43% YoY in April 2020, and by August that deficit had decreased to as little as 8% in some regions. However, ER volumes are the slowest to recover. While there are still concerns for health and safety, “COVID fatigue” makes it important to build patient confidence without reinforcing the stigmas around care.
If your wait times are shorter than most, then shout it from the rooftops. With patient wait times as short as five minutes, capitalize on the speed as a differentiator of care. Position the effects of COVID-19 as a force for operational efficiency and top-of-mind awareness. You can also activate patients to (re)engage with primary care follow-ups after a trip to the ER. If you can help your patients get connected (in person or virtually), let them know. Sharing this detail can help them feel cared for and prepared for what comes next.
Tell consumers what you’re doing to not only make emergency care safer but also faster or more convenient than ever before. Transparency can go a long way toward building confidence, especially when it concerns feelings of safety.
Primary Care is Proactive Care
2020 was clouded with fear-centric health messaging, but 2021 is a prime opportunity to recenter messaging on proactive care. Even before COVID, most patients (64%) weren’t going to the doctor, even if it put their health in jeopardy, because of concerns about cost. Nearly half (46%) of adults went at least a year without a single visit to a primary care provider, For primary care providers, a “silver lining” of the pandemic may very well be the reprioritized value of health and safety.
Healthcare marketers can lean into this mindset by creating a primary care “value” story that positions ease of being seen, speed of treatment and convenience at the center. Campaign creative should emphasize these differentiators in your model of care to motivate a primary care-first mindset. This is especially important given declines in ER use and the opportunity for proactive care strategies. Encourage patients to “Put your health first in 2021” by getting care when and where they need it. Promote the ease of finding and scheduling a PCP online and opportunities for tele-health connections for instant access to care.
A simple shift in tone and messaging can help your campaigns better reach your target audiences. These thought-starters are intended to help you look closely at your planned campaigns so you can provide the best possible message for maximum impact. Interested in learning more? Reach out to schedule a consultation.