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COVID-19 Update: Why Education & Branding Are Imperative for Hospitals

Busy hospital front desk lobby

As the coronavirus pandemic has gone on, one of the biggest sources of stress for consumers has been the lack of access to reliable information. With varying intentions, government officials, health organizations, businesses, and individuals all seem to have their own ideas about the most effective ways to stay healthy. This is where hospitals and health systems need to step in. Not only because they have a moral obligation to do so — but also because it’s in their best interest.

States across the country are beginning the reopening process. People are returning to work and wondering how they can keep themselves and others healthy, and potential patients who have been putting off procedures are beginning the research process once more. There is an information gap that hospitals can fill, and the ones that do most effectively will strongly benefit their reputations.

During this crucial transition period, we’re here to give hospital and health system leaders guidance on their branding and education efforts.

Your community needs clear communication

A crisis of this scale is truly unprecedented, and consumers are having trouble finding a reliable news source to turn to for answers. The evidence is frighteningly clear: In one of the more unconventional trends we’ve seen during the pandemic, poison control centers have reported an alarming number of calls involving the ingestion of household cleaning products as a COVID-19 prevention or treatment measure.

The large-scale informational chaos surrounding the virus presents a massive opportunity for hospitals and health systems. It is imperative that healthcare marketers reach their communities and guide them through this time with medically sound, fact-based recommendations.

During this period, hospitals should use their marketing channels to create content that informs their communities about best practices for preventing the spread of the virus. Audiences are primed to listen: recent survey results have shown that people trust their local healthcare leaders more than almost anyone else when it comes to COVID-19 updates. Advertising costs have also gone down, making this an extremely cost-effective time to build trust with potential patients in your area.

Patients need answers and are ready to return

Coinciding with a growing readiness among consumers to return to normal life, approximately 23 states began their reopening plans on May 8th, with another nine scheduled to roll out their partial reopening on May 15th. In turn, some hospitals are starting to nail down their approach to reintroducing elective surgery to their list of available services.

While anxiety about contracting COVID-19 has played a large role in preventing some people from setting up hospital appointments, there are many people that are on quite the opposite side of that spectrum. We can see that clearly demonstrated below, as we review interest in “elective surgery open” and “open for elective surgery” searches on Google.

Google is reporting a significant spike in these searches and predicts it will continue as states follow through with their reopening plans.

Google Search Trends for “Elective Surgery Open” from May 2019 to May 2020

Chart showing search trends on Google for the term "elective surgery open" over the past year, with an increase in March and April

Google Search Trends for “Open for Elective Surgery” from May 2019 to May 2020

Chart showing search trends on Google for the term "open for elective surgery" over the past year, with an increase in March and April

Taking a look at Google’s list of “breakout queries” (searches with tremendous, sudden spikes in volume) gives us some evidence as to the source of this surge in searches. Terms relating to breast cancer surgery, prostate cancer surgery, colorectal cancer surgery, thyroid cancer surgery, and many more types of cancer have seen a steady increase of 50 to 200%+ since 2015, with breast cancer being at the top of that list.

This trend shows that many patients who are going through battles with cancer, some of them recently diagnosed, are actively seeking information about the procedures they need. It is further evidence that the time to advertise for these types of cancers and their related procedures is now. These patients are actively searching online for hospitals that are able to help them, and every day they have to wait poses a greater risk to their health.

If you’d like more information about how your health system can harness the power of digital marketing to keep your community informed and establish your brand firmly in the mind of your target audience, visit our COVID-19 resource page for hospitals or contact us here.

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