What COVID-Era Patients Want To Know

What COVID-Era Patients Want To Know

As access to in-clinic health care begins to open, service lines begin to accept patients once more, and elective procedures become available to patients, we asked: 

  • Are patients ready to return for care?
  • What do they need to hear from us? 
  • How has this pandemic changed them? 

Watch our Campfire Session on What COVID-Era Patients Want To Know. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

On 5/08/20, Ann, Stephen and I were joined by guest panelists: 

  • Mike Dame, Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Carilion Clinic, which serves more than 1 million people in Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Carl Maronich, Marketing Director at Riverside Healthcare, a fully-integrated healthcare system based in Kankakee, Illinois.

This week, the fire was stoked for a discussion around:

  • The question on every health care marketing professional’s mind right now: “How do we let patients know we are open and help them feel confident in returning to our facilities for care?”
  • Quick takeaways from Hailey Sault’s newest patient listening research.
  • Four COVID-era patient personas by generation, along with their current emotions, challenges, triggers and how to reach them.

Here’s a summary of this session:

Mike Dame and Carl Maronich shared the “state of their states” in the realm of ramping up testing, opening up elective surgeries, the return to nonessential services, and the protocols in place for patient and provider safety.

Mike described this period as having one foot on the dock (or in the COVID world) and the other in the boat (the ramp-up world). “We are all trying to keep up with that boat that wants to speed off as fast as it can so that we can take care of our patients and restore our financial health.”

Safety inside and out

Carl brought up the keyword in COVID-era patient messaging—safety. He shared what many of us have been hearing: that patients are delaying medical care because of concerns about safety. He reiterated the need to make people feel confident that they are safe in our facilities, as well as the importance of ensuring internal, operational folks are able to inform patients about safety protocols and what to expect at their appointments.


Extreme transparency and the need to show rather than tell was discussed. Show patients what it will look like when they pull up, what steps they will take, what steps their provider will take, etc. It is our job to ease the fears of our patients and their family and friends who are bringing them in for these procedures.

The blessing and curse of social media

The need to spread facts not fear was examined, as was having social media conversations that ensure good information is being provided to our communities.

Fresh Hailey Sault research

Verbatim answers were shared from the research Hailey Sault conducted last week on how consumer sentiment has changed since the COVID crisis began and what people need to hear to be ready to come back into the health care system. An invitation to access the research was extended by Ann.

COVID-Era personas

We presented four personas developed by Hailey Sault, specific to meeting health care audiences emotionally and logically right now. The personas were divided generationally to speak to the life stages and characteristics unique to each generation. Because women are the health cares decision makers for their families, each persona presented was a woman. The personas covered Generation-Z through baby boomers, outlining each persona’s:

  • Current emotions
  • Service line needs
  • COVID-19 challenges
  • Triggers
  • What the persona needs to hear from you
  • How to reach her


1. Safety—We must ensure that the fearful patient (the one who is driving around with the windows rolled up, a mask on and all gloved up) feels safe and confident coming back into the health care system. Effective messaging to each COVID-era persona must be infused with reassurance and empathy and must acknowledge the anxiety people are feeling right now.

2. Communication—Patients must be reminded to not put off their health care at this time. The message of safety needs to extend to all of our service lines. “It’s not just a COVID world, it’s a health care world,” says Carl. “So how do we continue to message that at this time.”

3. Transparency—We must show, rather than tell, patients about the safety protocols we have in place. “We must remind patients that we treat infectious diseases all the time,” says Mike. “This is a new virus that is still very mysterious. We are just adding this to the couple hundred other infectious disease states that we treat on a regular basis. Yes, we are isolating in different ways now and we’re gearing up PPE-wise in different ways, but those patients are still isolated. So if you are coming in, you are going to be physically distanced quite a bit. It is getting back to showing. Showing that and what the experience is going to be like.”

A parting thought: the good will of our communities

Right now we as health care marketers find ourselves in a position like no other. 

“All of us as health care professionals have built so much good will,” says Mike. “If we’ve done our jobs well, we’ve built a lot of good will and a lot of trust and we have the ear of our communities more than ever. That is one of the opportunities that is going to come out of this, is the ability to really advance public health in new ways by being able to engage with our communities in ways that we didn’t before.”

We must be extremely vigilant and careful with that trust and good will.

We’re in this together

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders. 

Make sure to sign up below to receive invitations to future Campfire Sessions and links to past Campfire Session recaps.

Your Post-Pandemic Health Care Marketing Strategy

Your Post-Pandemic Health Care Marketing Strategy

What does health care marketing and communications look and feel like as: 

  • Governors begin to ease up on stay at home orders in their states?
  • Emergency rooms and ICUs become less crowded?
  • Health systems begin the process of putting protocols in place to expand access, reintroduce service lines and open up to more elective procedures? 

Watch our Campfire Session on Your Post-Pandemic Marketing Strategy. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

On 5/1/20 three health care marketing leaders from across the country joined Mike and Stephen to discuss: 

  • Communications strategies during the COVID crisis. 
  • Strategies they are putting in place as access expands.
  • What post-COVID planning looks like.  

Guest panelists included: 

  • Annette Calteaux, director of marketing at Winona Health, a health system based in Winona, Minnesota. 
  • Lisa McCluskey, MBA, vice president, marketing communications at CHI Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 
  • Kelly Meigs, MBA, vice president of marketing strategy and planning for Tanner Health System, providing care across west Georgia and east Alabama.

Here is a summary of this session:

With Georgia in the news for being one of the first states to open restrictions, Tennessee lifting restrictions, and Minnesota facing two additional weeks of stay at home orders, the discussion began with a “State of Your State” review. Each panelist shared the number of cases they’ve seen so far, the number of deaths experienced, the stabilization of cases in their systems and testing in their respective states or systems.

Our panel discussed: 

  • The establishment of their command centers, its role in daily meaningful communications to staff, as well as the public, and the role the command center will take moving forward.
  • The data being used to determine the procedures and protocols that will be put in place to protect providers and patients as access to in-office care is restored.
  • Triaging patients through a central call line and using telehealth paired with in-office access for care needs.

Patient fear:

People are afraid to use the ED. They are putting off seeking care until they are sicker. They are also putting off seeking care because they may have lost their job and their health insurance. Lisa McCluskey said that her ED has seen a 40 percent increase in STEMI in the past few weeks. Many cases are due to people not taking medications because they can no longer afford them.

Interestingly, there is a fear of the actual COVID test among patients. Many have seen what can be a painful process on the news. When those seeking higher risk elective procedures were told that they would have to be tested, many elected to wait. 

Provider/Colleague fear:

Some staff are eager to see patients again, while other staff are worried about their safety, the safety of their families and the safety of their patients. The need to prepare staff so that they feel confident about reopening and the cadence of reopening was discussed.

Need for scripting messages:

The importance of scripting messages for staff and preparing physicians (with scripted messaging) to talk to their patients about safety and protocols was discussed.

Biggest challenges

As our panelists’ systems transition from talking about staying home to “we’re still here” messages and then into opening up more service lines, they talked about facing these challenges:

  • Making sure timing is correct
  • Making sure backlogs of patients have been served and access is available for new patients
  • Making sure everyone in the system is on the same page
  • Remaining fluid
  • Listening to what patients and the community are saying
  • Engaging in meaningful ways with patients and helping them get through this new normal


1. Careful messaging must be practiced in all COVID communications. Scripting is critical and our internal and external audiences’ fears and concerns must be thoughtfully addressed.

2. Right time messaging is key.

3. As we move through the crisis period of this pandemic into a new normal, we must transition from a constant stream of communication with staff and our communities to an intentional and consistent mode of communicating. 

We’re in this together

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our weekly Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders. 

Make sure to sign up below to receive invitations to future Campfire Sessions and links to past Campfire Session recaps.

Healing our Healers, Now and After COVID-19

Healing our Healers, Now and After COVID-19

Watch our Campfire Session on Healing Caregiver Burnout to Thrive Beyond COVID-19. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

In a study of 1,000+ health care providers, conducted by The Institute for Healthcare Excellence (IHE), 34.5 percent of providers reported symptoms and feelings of burnout going into the COVID-19 crisis. In the midst of this crisis, 75.5 percent of those same providers reported feeling burned out.

On 4/24/20 William Maples, MD, a founder of IHE and Jennifer Krippner, Chief Experience Officer at IHE, joined Mike and Stephen to discuss fighting burnout now and post-COVID. 

As background, Dr. Maples practiced medical oncology for 25 years at Mayo Clinic and helped lead the Mayo Clinic’s quality, safety, and experience journey. Today, he leads IHE, where he and the faculty work with health care organizations to nurture the relational skills necessary to create a culture that embraces trust, respect, compassion, and teamwork. This, in turn, creates an environment where quality, safety, and efficiency efforts flourish. 

Jennifer Krippner is a leading expert on patient experience and relationship-centered care. She has more than 20 years of expertise in strategic planning, patient experience, physician development, and employee/community engagement. 

This week, we discussed:

  • How teams are showing up and confronting the stress, exhaustion and emotional trauma presented by COVID-19.
  • How realities like lack of supplies, shifting teams and partnerships, poor processes, fear of not being able to provide appropriate care, negative emotions and strained relationships are contributing factors to burnout right now.
  • How providers are dealing with the fear of contracting the virus and the reality of having to care for and even resuscitate colleagues who have contracted the virus.
  • The guilt felt by providers who are not on the frontlines of care.
  • The economic impact of the crisis on health care facilities.
  • The need to furlough those not on the frontlines.
  • How to lead and keep a human centered direction at this time.
  • The solutions to leading health care teams through this crisis being offered by IHE.


  • There was a problem with provider burnout before COVID-19. The virus has only intensified the issue.
  • After this pandemic, leadership cannot ask its providers to come back and perform at their peak. Work needs to be done to care for those who have been operating in survival mode.
  • Leaders must have a proactive plan in place—How will you ensure your teams can heal physically and emotionally?  How will you rekindle or create a culture of trust, respect, compassion and teamwork?
  • There is an opportunity to lead your organization through this “noble fight,” as Dr. Maples describes it, with compassion and grace.

Moving forward

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our weekly Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders. 

Make sure to sign up below to receive invitations to future Campfire Sessions and links to past Campfire Session recaps.

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader Through COVID-19

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader Through COVID-19

Watch our Campfire Session on Emotional Intelligence in the Time of COVID-19. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

On 4/17/20 Marsha and Stephen were joined by Jay Pryor, author, speaker, executive coach, and facilitator of corporate training workshops around the world. Jay is someone who is very special to us. He has guided the personal and professional growth of many of us at Hailey Sault and continues to be “there for us” when we call upon him. We wouldn’t be the same without him. 

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our weekly Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organizations and its marketing leaders. 

This week, we discussed:

  • Emotional intelligence: What it is and how to practice it
  • Managing fear
  • How to be present for your staff when you aren’t present physically 
  • Sharing bad news with your staff
  • Working from home and shoring ourselves up to safely return to work

Here’s a summary of this session:

  • There are certain parts of our brain that handle emotions and when everything is working as it should a dance occurs in our head that produces the mastery and flow that create aha moments. 
  • Stress destroys or washes out that dance and blocks those aha moments from happening.
  • Our goal is to keep our stress level down and include things in our day that bring us joy.
  • We can do that by being mindful. By being emotionally “response–able.”
  • The key is knowing when our stress level is high and determining what we can do for ourselves.
  • Right now there are two pandemics gripping us—COVID-19 and fear.
  • Jay described F.E.A.R. as false events appearing real. We create scenarios in our heads that lead to fear. We worry.
  • Fear and worry keep our stress hormones active. 
  • We can’t dismiss the fear we are feeling right now. We have to do extra duty to stay in the moment, to give ourselves grace and to manage our thoughts.
  • As leaders, our jobs are to support our team. Every person in lockdown is experiencing some kind of stress. We need to be realistic about productivity and the extra stressors in people’s lives—especially those people home with young children.
  • Sharing bad news with staff is difficult. We need to reconcile within ourselves what to share and when the time is right—being forthright, transparent and authentic.
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable as a leader and to allow others to lead for a while.
  • Health care leaders must be thinking about how they are going to help their staff through the trauma each is experiencing treating patients with COVID-19.
  • What will work look like after this pandemic? Will we be more willing to work at home? What will we all need to do to feel safe?


  • Emotional intelligence is a practice that allows leaders to keep their stress level down and be emotionally “response–able.”
  • Fear should not be discounted right now, but it can be managed.
  • Be present with your team and also give yourself permission to be vulnerable.
  • Give yourself and your team a break, you are not going to be as productive as you were before this outbreak and that’s okay.
  • Find joy.

Make sure to sign up below to receive invitations to future Campfire Sessions and links to past campfire session recaps.

How Health Care Marketers Can Help Women Through COVID-19

How Health Care Marketers Can Help Women Through COVID-19

As health care marketers, we’ve known for years that women make 80 percent of the decisions about when and where their family receives health care. And, it’s no different now during this COVID-19 epidemic. 

What women are going through right now.

Besides looking after everyone’s health, research from NRC Health found that while 43 percent of men are confident in the United States’ ability to minimize the coronavirus epidemic, only 33 percent of women are feeling the same.

The newest national poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found a larger share of women compared to men worried that they or someone in their family will get sick from the coronavirus. More women compared to men reported they feel that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has had a major negative impact on their mental health. 

How can we help women through COVID-19?

Women need us to be calm, reassuring, educational, informative, helpful partners. They are taking on a lot of the burden for the care and welfare of the people in their family right now and we need to speak to them directly about the worries and concerns they are feeling.

What do we tell them? 

To have the most impact, we need to address each of them personally. A millennial woman with children at home, or living on her own, is experiencing COVID-19 much differently than a baby boomer. And, Gen-X women (our sandwich generation) are pulling double duty worrying about their growing family and their aging parents.

Millennial Women

A global web index survey found that 60 percent of millennials are very or extremely concerned about the COVID-19 epidemic. They have been described as the most anxious generation in history and it’s no wonder. They’re dealing with unprecedented challenges in the realms of politics, mass shootings, economic uncertainty, global warming and now a pandemic.

How we can help.

We need to address their anxiety and let them know we can help them cope. We need to reassure them that they are going to get through this, that they can seek help for their mental and physical concerns using the technology they so easily use to accomplish tasks in the rest of their life. We need to provide them with information about telehealth and we need to be their trusted resource for taking care of the health of their children, their spouse and themselves. 

Gen-X Women

Generation X women have a lot going on. They are referred to as the working generation. They were in the workforce during 9/11, the Dot Com Bubble in 1999 and the 2008 stock market crash. Now this. They are worried about paying the bills and how they’re going to keep everyone healthy, including their elderly parents who may be quarantined at home or in assisted living. 

How we can help.

They have always felt like the middle child—unheard and unseen. They need us to tell them that we see what they are dealing with and we’re going to try to make their lives easier. We need to let them know it is okay not to be the strong one for a few minutes, that we will provide them with the resources and technology (telehealth) they need to keep themselves, their children and their parents as healthy as possible. 

Baby Boomer Women

For the first time some members of this generation find themselves in the “older” and “at risk” population. It is jarring and they don’t like it. They are, however, the most likely to know how to minimize their risk of infection. They are also less likely than other generations to believe the urban myths circulating about the virus. Boomers are more concerned about the health of their children and grandchildren than their own health. 

How we can help.

Boomers fear change. They’ve seen a lot of it and sometimes it is hard to keep up with everything, especially technological change. They don’t appreciate feeling old, inadequate and not able to keep up. Right now they are being asked to use the technology they sometimes fear to connect with others—including their health care providers. 

Global web index found that six in ten people believe that virtual health appointments are a good way to deliver health care while minimizing the spread of the virus. Only 15 percent of people said that they were definitely not open to them; however, that figure increased to 25 percent among boomers.

Boomers need us to show them how easy it is to meet their health care needs online, whether through telehealth or some other method. They need us to let them know we will walk them through every step and that their experience will be seamless. They need us to reaffirm they are doing the right thing for their health.

We can impact how this crisis is affecting women.

For many women, especially those with children at home, COVID-19 has intensified the many challenges they have long been faced with. As the primary caretaker and in charge of the health care responsibilities in their families they are worried about the negative consequences of this pandemic. We, as marketers, are in a position to help them care for their families and themselves now more than ever before.

P.S. We want to empower every woman through this crisis. 

And the way to do that is to connect with them through:

  • Social media channels providing calming messages, helpful information, trusted resources and ways they can take care of themselves and their families.
  • Digital ads that reassure and celebrate the good work women are doing to keep their families safe. 
  • Creating online events and communities, led by caregivers, where women can get advice and share what is working for them.
  • Sharing patient stories of those who have come through the virus.

10 Key Takeaways: Marketing Telemedicine During COVID-19 and Beyond

10 Key Takeaways: Marketing Telemedicine During COVID-19 and Beyond

Watch our Campfire Session on Telemedicine: The New Healthcare Normal? Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

Now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. Our Hailey Sault Campfire Sessions are weekly conversations among colleagues about the issues and opportunities facing health care organizations and marketing leaders. 

On 4/10/20, Mike, Ann and Stephen from Hailey Sault were joined by Katie Johnson, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Lake Region Healthcare, and Chris Boyer, senior-level digital strategist and founder and show host of touch point media, to discuss the surge of telemedicine in health care during COVID-19.

We discussed:

  • Insights for launching or expanding telemedicine services
  • Use cases for telemedicine, including triage and continuity of services and care
  • Consumer expectations and adoption rates post-COVID-19

10 key takeaways:

1. Telemedicine is being used by providers like Lake Region Healthcare to capture back lost patient volume after physical clinic locations closed due to COVID-19 and patients discontinued use of routine medical visits.

2. People still need health care during COVID-19. Telemedicine provides a link to safe care. Katie Johnson pointed out that some people who need care are not seeking care due to COVID-19, therefore becoming sicker. Telemedicine offers an opportunity to help people be well while observing stay-at-home and social distancing measures. 

3. Digital health solutions like telemedicine have been in place among many health systems for years. But telemedicine is now in the forefront. 

4. Changes in reimbursement at the federal level have increased the ability for providers to offer increased telemedicine services. 

5. National telemedicine providers are now actively marketing their services.

6. In addition to national providers, many alternative medical providers, such as chiropractors, have amplified their telemedicine offerings. 

7. These non-traditional competitors may have immediate and long-term negative impacts on providers. 

8. It’s important to communicate that telemedicine is simply another tool and resource for patients to access care. This helps reduce the friction among some consumers adopting telemedicine as a way to receive care. 

9. Many consumers wonder if the quality of care is as good as a traditional in-person visit. Also, many consumers may resist seeing an unfamiliar care provider. Both concerns are opportunities to address. 

10. If it’s not already, telemedicine should be part of the care journey models you develop for your audiences. 

During the campfire session, Katie and Ann shared recent advertising efforts to encourage Lake Region patients and community members to use its new virtual health services. 

Virtual visits ad examples

Early results indicate that consumers are embracing virtual care—which is new for Lake Region and the community in general. 


We obviously don’t know what the future will bring. But the question raises other questions, like:

  • Will we go back to “normal” after COVID-19? Or will telemedicine become a new normal for patients seeking care? 
  • Will telemedicine become the next battleground for winning new patients and brand loyalty? Providing telemedicine services has become table stakes for health care providers. How will providers elevate how telemedicine is delivered to improve patient satisfaction and loyalty? 
  • Now that physicians are using telemedicine in higher percentages, will they be the next champions for telemedicine? 

Make sure to sign up below to receive invitations to future Campfire Sessions and links to past campfire session recaps.