WHPRMS September Blog: 10/2 Panel “Challenges and Lessons” in the Times of COVID – 19

The COVID-19 pandemic is showing no signs of abating anytime soon. In fact, Wisconsin’s positive case rate and incidence of morbidity is suddenly rising, in part accelerated by students at University campuses living in close quarters and doing, well, what young adults do.

Since March, healthcare marketers have scrambled to develop COVID – 19 crisis communication plans focused on meeting the immediate needs of the community, patients, visitors, healthcare workers, physicians, administrators and board members.

Now, in late September, and we are more fully able to understand the ramifications of the COVID-19 epidemic and its impact upon the community, as well as the steps hospitals and health systems are taking to effectively manage the situation. It is both timely and fortunate that the Annual Conference planners have chosen to keep the COVID – 19 response at the forefront of our educational needs.

Sue Spaight, Director of Research & Strategy, Core Health is the moderator for the Friday, October 2 (9:00 – 10:00 AM) panel discussion Challenges and Lessons in Marketing and Communications During the COVID-19 Crisis. The assembled experts will offer real-life insight into the past and future of healthcare marketing during the pandemic. I am excited and curious to hear of lessons learned and opportunities found as discussed among the experts.

I was delighted to have had an ongoing conversation with Sue in advance of the panel discussion. Sue’s insight as a research and strategy expert provides her with both a retrospective and prospective knowledge of how healthcare organizations may be responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared her thoughts with me as well as some notes that will guide the discussion. Below, we both offer some insight into the nature of the panel discussion.

First of all, Sue reminds us as to where we’ve been. “The COVID-19 crisis has been such an intense time for healthcare marketers and communicators — more pressure-filled and often more purposeful than ever. There’s so much we can learn from each other, and it’s so important to create more connectedness.”

And in setting the tone for the panel discussion, she adds: “In this conversation we will take a look back, reflecting on what the past six months have been like and what we have learned from them. And we’ll take a look forward as to where we may go from here.”

 In Looking Back

Sue recognizes that the speed of work has accelerated, the need for innovation has increased and that we’ve all been pressured to create more purposeful marketing solutions. Furthermore, she opines that team dynamics may have changed as groups are likely doing more with less resources available. And in these stressful times, Spaight wonders what teams are doing to remain motivated, engaged and balanced.

She has also considered the role of customer research in understanding patient perceptions and emotions throughout the pandemic. She will ask how these insights have enhanced the response of marketing professionals.

In Looking Forward

Sue is confident that many lessons will have been learned during this time. Perhaps, they’ve enhanced the role of marketing communications in the eyes of senior executives. Our actions and the important role that they played may in fact, result in an elevated role for us in future organizational strategy.

And, Susan considers how some of the new communication tools and strategies have implications for future actions. Certainly, she notes, that the pandemic will change the way we work for months to come, and that there will be long-term implications for hospitals and health systems as they re-tool for the changing landscape of healthcare in America.

The Panelists

Sue is very pleased with the caliber of the panelists and is quite impressed with the expertise to be found among them. The distinguished panelists are:

  • Jon Ollmann, Director, Marketing and Brand Strategy – Thedacare
  • Susen Rasmussen, Director of Strategic Communications – ProHealth Care
  • Jamey Shiels, System Vice President, Consumer and Digital Experience, Public Affairs and Marketing – Advocate Aurora
  • Andy Brodzeller, External Communications Manager – Children’s Wisconsin

“I am certain, with this panel of smart and engaging experts from top Wisconsin health systems, it will be an informative and inspiring experience.”, adds Sue.

Questions and Answers

There will be time for a Q & A period, and I encourage you to ask as many questions as possible. Here are some questions you may consider in advance:

  • What were the first, and possibly most critical steps taken by the Marketing Department when the serious nature of the pandemic for patients, employees and the community became apparent?
  • What is the role of the Marketing Department in supporting employees? What’s become “best practices” in the area of internal communications in the times of COVID?
  • Why is it important to reinforce your company’s brand and mission during these difficult and confusing times? What messages best assure your community that you are there for them and are working to stop the spread of the Coronavirus? Have you been promoting your physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and others on the front lines to the public?
  • How have media plans changed since March and the onset of the disease? How have you leveraged webinars, videoconferences and podcasts to replace community events and classes?
  • Has the patient pipeline been diminished as your organization pivoted towards preparing and treating COVID – 19 patients? What efforts have you taken to turn the pipeline back on?

Thank you in advance for attending the Friday, October 2 (9:00 – 10:00 AM) panel discussion Challenges and Lessons in Marketing and Communications During the COVID-19 Crisis.

I have no doubt that you will find it to be time well spent.

James Shulkin

Leave a Reply