In late March, the Federal Communications Commission issued a ruling which qualified the COVID-19 pandemic as an "emergency" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This gives hospitals and healthcare providers, as well as state and local health officials, the freedom to make automated calls and send text messages with information about COVID-19.
If your organization decides to develop a Coronavirus outreach campaign for your patients or consumers, following four best practices will enhance the effectiveness of your communications:
- Keep information easy to understand. The best messages are clear and rely on trustworthy, authoritative information. Remember that some older adults may be hard of hearing, while others may have mild cognitive impairments due to dementia or other memory disorders. It may be helpful to repeat the same information multiple times. Creating a pattern in your messages will make it easier for people to remember the key points.
- Offer information in different languages. This is crucial in multi-cultural communities. Nationwide, for example, Latinos represent a growing share of the 65 and older age group. Culturally adapted translations are a must, since "one-to-one" translations of crucial information can often result in confusing or incorrect information.
- Use communication methods that are preferred by patients and consumers. During times of crisis, people welcome useful information. That information is even more valuable when it's delivered using channels that people prefer. Some favor text messages, while others like phone calls and voice mail, or email. Some seniors may prefer direct mail pieces that they can post on their refrigerator or in another prominent place.
- Leverage technology to automate outreach efforts. Many healthcare organizations are using technology platforms to support their emergency preparedness plans. These highly scalable systems can automate IVR calls, SMS/text messages, emails, and direct mail to targeted groups of patients or consumers. Results are trackable online, so program management is easy.
Given the dynamic nature of COVID-19, keeping current can be tough. One of the best things that healthcare organizations can do right now is provide patients with timely, accurate, and relevant information.
To learn more about HMS' rapid messaging solution that is specifically designed for Coronavirus, visit our website and discover how to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time.