Last week, the GLOBALHealthPR community connected virtually to discuss how we can best support our clients and their priorities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders from our network of independent healthcare agencies around the globe shared experiences on how best to support our clients to communicate effectively at this unprecedented time.
It sounds very simple, but a key takeaway was how vital it is to ensure regular contact with clients to make sure that agencies stay up-to-date and can provide the best advice in a rapidly evolving situation. It’s important to discuss purpose and activities that can help demonstrate their organisation’s ability to adapt and commit to this ‘new normal’.
Below, we outline strategies and tactics that healthcare communications agencies and industry can take to support hospitals, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients:
- Consider other channels, including virtual events, through which to share scientific information to HCPs now that pharmaceutical sales reps are off the road and all in-person medical meetings have been postponed or cancelled.
- Develop targeted patient content to help companies reach immunosuppressed and high-risk patients with important information.
- Prioritise internal communications to help organisations continue to operate efficiently and to maintain staff engagement. This may be especially important for smaller client companies, who may not have leveraged agency support for internal communications previously.
- Encourage clients to pursue media opportunities that reflect the changing landscape. Over time, the media in many countries have become less inclined to tell other healthcare stories and have become increasingly hungry to tell positive stories. We can help clients convey how they have supported healthcare systems and local communities.
Opportunities for industry partnership include the following:
- Provide phones or tablets to hospital intensive care units that are closed to visitors, so families can contact loved ones who are in critical condition.
- Set up a phone line that provides psychological support to healthcare professionals who are extremely busy and under immense pressure.
We also discussed how agencies can support their wider communities, including other businesses and non-profit organisations. For example, our partner in Italy, Connexia, is a distributor for Cisco’s Webex and has been providing free accounts to over 300 companies, as well as offering onboarding services to this platform.
Building Business Resilience
The coronavirus pandemic may cause a lasting economic downturn, and therefore, it is vital we are prepared to effectively support each other in building business resilience and to look after our teams. Based on feedback from countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic, GHPR business leaders recommend the following:
- Move to a working from home model sooner than required by government. This will help limit exposure to the virus, enabling employees to continue working effectively.
- Pay close attention to your organisation’s internal communications, building in plenty of time for check-ins and making sure that people feel supported while they are working remotely. A company culture does not disappear when working virtually, but it may take a little extra care to ensure its presence continues to be felt.
- Regularly track finances and business KPIs. Moving from monthly to weekly and even daily check-ins ensures that our businesses stay in good shape. Increased oversight empowers us to be able to react promptly to change.
We all found the first meeting of our GLOBALHealthPR COVID-19 Task Force extremely useful and will continue to connect, listen and share our learnings in the coming weeks and months.
Follow @GLOBALHealthPR on Twitter for additional perspectives on this and other timely global health issues. For more insights or communications support from our local experts, please contact GHPRHQ@globalhealthpr.com.
Authored by Rachel Terry, Director, and Jenny Davies, Account Director at Aurora Healthcare Communications, London.