By day I am the creative director at Hailey Sault. By night I am one of the agency’s living, breathing COVID-era personas.

Let me explain. When this all began—just a few short months ago—Hailey Sault researched and developed several comprehensive generational COVID-era patient personas. I am the Gen-X persona. 

(By the way, I’ll share links to our Campfire Session webinars about Hailey Sault’s COVID-era personas and links to other helpful patient acquisition insights and strategies at the end of this blog.) 

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As a Gen-X mom, I help manage the health care decisions of four people:

  1. my 11-year-old daughter 
  2. my 88-year-old mother 
  3. my husband
  4. myself (of course)

My husband would argue that he doesn’t need help managing his health care, but it’s my nature to lovingly “help” when I can.

Can you say “stress”?

It is an understatement to say that it is stressful at times, and now, in this new reality—everyone’s “new normal” thanks to COVID-19—that stress has intensified.

My daughter

My daughter’s health is fine right now, thankfully. She’s had some pretty big issues in the past with an aggressive benign tumor in her ear that needed several surgeries to completely eradicate. We needed to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as they didn’t have the level of specialization in Duluth, Minnesota that the tumor required. I’ve never been more thankful to live only four hours from that type of specialized care.

My worries for her in this time of COVID are the same as what I believe most parents are facing. 

  • If she does require care, is it safe to bring her in?
  • Does she really need her wellness check when she turns 12? 
  • What can I realistically put off that wouldn’t be detrimental in the future? 
  • How bad a mom am I to even be thinking about putting off care for my daughter? 
  • I also wonder about the stress this is having on her. She’s an only child and not being able to play with other kids on a regular basis can’t be good for her mental health. 
  • And that’s not even to mention the extra screen time she’s getting on her devices because her summer camp was canceled and I’m working full time from home. 
  • All of this adds up to me having tremendous feelings of guilt.

My mother

My mother lives in a wonderful and much-needed assisted living facility—which she entered exactly one week before COVID struck. Her health was all-consuming before that time, and her progressing mental decline meant that our roles were increasingly reversing. She’s been on lockdown for months and I’m wracked with feelings of guilt about her too, as well as sadness, and surprisingly, relief. 

  • She’s doing ok, she says. 
  • She’s getting three great meals a day, has joined in on the activities, and made some friends. 
  • However, I can tell she’s declining even further because we can’t be there with her. 
  • It is hard for me, missing her and thinking about her being without us in these crazy times. 

My husband

My husband recently had surgery to remove skin cancer and has had some other ongoing issues that I’ve been trying to get him to self-advocate for, but he is not as concerned as I am. (Go figure.) I try not to bug him about it. 

  • He works in health care and I have questions about COVID regarding that also.
  • He must be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of where he works, right? 
  • Will he bring it home to us? 
  • Or, is he more protected because of the health care safety protocols that are in place? Question, questions.

Myself

And then there is me. I’m healthy, knock on wood. 

  • I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t stressed. 
  • I am also due for a mammogram, which, you guessed it, I am putting off for now. I know it’s not smart, but wow, these are bizarre times. 
  • I would also be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t anxious and even depressed at times.

First, thank you!

Before I get into everything you can do for me, as the most sought-after health care persona, I want to thank you for everything you are doing for all of your patients—including my family, my mother and me. I can’t imagine the stress you are under at this time.

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Here’s what you need to know about what I am looking for, searching for, even yearning for from you.

SAFETY

Please let me know that it is safe to come into your facility. Let me know what you are doing to make it safe—actually, even use the word “safe.”

In research that Hailey Sault conducted in April, on how the information people were seeking about health care was changing, the words “safe” or “safety” were mentioned 126 times in the verbatim answers.

During our What COVID-era Patients Want to Know Campfire Session webinar, one of our guests, Carl Maronich, marketing director at Riverside Healthcare in Kankakee, Illinois shared 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 your 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.

TRANSPARENCY

If there was ever a time to over-share, this is that time. Let me know everything that you know about the virus and everything that you are doing about it. 

Also, show me the cleaning procedures you’re using and the protocols you’re following. Let me see every step you are taking and what the experience will be like when I enter one of your facilities. 

REASSURANCE

Another guest on the What COVID-era Patients Want to Know Campfire Session I mentioned above was Mike Dame, vice president, marketing and communication, at Carilion Clinic in Virginia and West Virginia. He said something profound that every patient, including me, needs to know:

“We must remind patients that we treat infectious diseases all the time. 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.”

CONNECTION

It’s important to me that you know where I am on my health care journey and where my child, mother and husband are on theirs. I need you to address the challenges of overcoming the barriers to care that were present for them and myself before COVID and that have become amplified even further during COVID.

As the head of health care in my household and for my mother, please give me tips and answers and ways to make my job easier.

Some great insight on this can be found in a Campfire Session called Deep Dive: COVID-Era Patient Personas and in a blog by a colleague called How Health Care Marketers Can Help Women Through COVID-19.

TRUST

Our Hailey Sault research in April revealed that people trusted the CDC and their own health care system the most when it came to information about the virus. An even earlier look at consumers in March showed that 93 percent wanted regular information about COVID-19 from their hospital, health system or physician.

I can attest to that. There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social media about the virus, its symptoms and what to do to stay safe—as well as in some mainstream media outlets right now. I have trusted the health of my family and myself to you for years. You are where I am going to turn for trusted facts. Please make sure they are available for me.

The insights and strategies you need

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll reveals that women appear to be shouldering the extra stress and anxiety brought on by the outbreak of COVID-19.

As a living, breathing Hailey Sault COVID-era persona, I know that is true. The way to inspire me and my family to come back in for care is to address my stress, answer my questions, make me feel safe and confident in your care, make it easy for me to know how to get in to see you, and show me what will happen when I or one of my family members comes in.

We (Hailey Sault) have a whole resource page filled with insights and strategies you can use to connect to people like me, as well as Gen-Z, millennials and baby boomers, during this time. 

Thank you again for everything you are doing right now.

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