The widespread adoption of telehealth has been a topic of great fodder for many years, with various health experts offering predictions about when and how it would become intertwined in our daily life. Most of these predictions, though, never forecasted the impact of a global pandemic.
When COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. this past winter, telehealth became an essential health care service seemingly overnight for folks who needed medical care without having in-person visits. The longstanding regulatory roadblocks that had inhibited the adoption of telehealth for many years, particularly those associated with health insurance coverage, vanished when the government began requiring payers to cover all telehealth visits. The Department of Health and Human Services also approved the use of unsecured platforms, such as Facetime, which would normally be considered non-compliant under HIPAA regulations.
Telehealth usage skyrocketed in the initial weeks and months of COVID-19, but has leveled off in recent weeks. Still, overall usage continues to be at an all-time high, likely leading to more and more providers that will permanently adopt the technology.
While telehealth adoption is building momentum, there are still many factors to consider before launching your product to help providers and patients connect through the pandemic and beyond. After all, with more popularity comes more competition.
Below are four communications strategies to consider:
There are two types of companies, generally speaking, that are currently operating within the telehealth space: those who have been diligently working in the industry for many years and those who have just entered the telehealth market with solutions aimed at addressing all sorts of health challenges. Either way, the market has never been more crowded and there are many options for consumers to choose from, so it is critical that you clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors.
The best way to do this is to ensure that your brand messaging is clear and concise. One of the most important reasons customers turn to your brand is because your product offers unique solutions that others do not. Too often these distinguishing details are hidden within the fine print of a website and not easily found by consumers. An intriguing graphic, a poingant patient story, or a memorable tagline are all ways that you can easily communicate the message you want consumers to digest. For example, if you provide tools for patients to take their own oxygen levels and blood pressure at home while they are on a telehealth visit with a provider, but your competition does not provide those types of physical resources, that should be a major focus of your messaging and marketing materials.
You are not selling furniture or a new computer. In a normal health care setting, it is critically important that patients feel a genuine sense of trust for their provider. When you are treating them through a screen, that is even more essential. To do this, many successful telehealth companies will showcase their provider credentials, have their providers review their experience with patients during the first few visits, and use patient testimonials to show how other people’s lives have been made better through the service.
In our digital world, consumers are constantly surrounded by the news of security issues and privacy concerns. If you do not clearly express how your service is safe and secure, it can become a major barrier to patient enrollment. For this reason, it is best to simply address the issue from the beginning of the patient experience, both in your product messaging and interpersonally through the telehealth visits.
It is an ever-changing and exciting time to be in the telehealth space, albeit challenging. If you are strategic and thoughtful in your marketing communications, you have a tremendous opportunity to build a highly successful company while helping patients through some of the most challenging moments of their lives.
Interested in hearing more about the impacts of COVID-19 on health care news reporting? RSVP for our digital health virtual media panel tomorrow, October 15 at 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST.
Brendan leads the health care practice at Inkhouse, serving as the strategic team lead for clients including health IT developers, hospital systems, insurers, medical device manufacturers, and innovative life science organizations.