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Your COVID-19 Communications Can’t be “One Size Fits All”

Whether you’re a business HR leader sharing information with your employees or a consultant preparing communications for your clients, it’s tempting to write one heartwarming COVID-19 message and be done with it. After all, the essential information that needs to be shared is all the same, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no.

You Have Three Main Audiences

Members fall into three risk categories for contracting the coronavirus and – more significantly – their likelihood of surviving it. Your employees may or may not think of themselves and their families in the context of this risk. As their health plan payer, you must. What concerns them most and how they behave means big differences in what they need to hear from you.

Low Risk (and everybody else) – Your low-risk audiences, as with all your other employees, worry about how quarantines and sheltering-in-place affect their jobs and their families. For example, their Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending accounts may take a hit when they purchase preventive and cold and flu symptom medicines, even if no one in their families catches the virus. That’s on top of expenses for cleaning disinfectants, hand sanitizer, vitamin C, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter remedies, when available.

You may have a wellness incentive plan in place that includes preventive screening exams, and members may be concerned how they will meet these requirements. Routine exams for cancer screening, chronic condition maintenance, and other preventive health and well-being appointments are not available right now, increasing risks and gaps in care. Many employees may be confused and incorrectly assume they can’t refill prescriptions for ongoing maintenance or see their physician for an acute flare-up.

Moderate RiskThe moderate risk audience includes people who must contend with issues like autoimmune diseases, allergy-induced asthma, diabetes, and other conditions that might significantly affect their ability to fight off the coronavirus. They may be even more worried about access to care – if they get sick, who will be available to offer the health services they need with a full understanding of their somewhat complicated health history? They’re also fully aware of the impact that significant illness may have on their healthcare costs – and that worries them, too.

High RiskThose employees fighting serious diseases, living in an immunosuppressed condition, or carrying multiple chronic conditions (or whose family members are) have an entirely different set of anxieties over and above the ones mentioned above. This audience worries about access to urgent care – and whether an ER visit exposes them to the coronavirus when their system is already significantly compromised. They’re thinking about survivability and how their family will be taken care of in their absence, followed by long-term care and potentially harsh ongoing financial realities.

Communications Must Meet People Where They Are

Your communications need to be personalized for these audiences to cut through all the feel-good coronavirus emails already out there. It’s not that your high-risk audiences don’t want to hear about preventative care. Other, more immediate concerns are at the top of their minds. Likewise, you could share information about how to handle urgent care, long-term care, and their associated financial burdens with your entire employee base, but your low-risk audience will wonder what that has to do with them. In either case, your moderate-risk audience will feel virtually invisible.

Employees need to feel like their employer sees them and understands what they’re feeling and experiencing. Only that connection generates the trust that what you’re sharing is worth their time.

Continental Benefits Can Make Personalized Communication Easier for You

We recognize that now may be the most critical time in your company’s history for you to support your employees’ health and well-being. Our patient engagement tool can help you get credible information about what’s going on in local communities – framed in ways that meet employees where they are in their experience with COVID-19.

The program includes a text-messaging platform, programmed to offer tiered responses to questions and concerns. The employee texts the number, then the system asks essential questions to create a profile that can better understand and respond with official, vetted information your employees need as this health crisis continues to evolve.

The system is “white-labeled,” meaning that you can brand it to come from your company, or from Continental Benefits. Most significantly, the platform is free to Continental Benefits partners, clients, and members.

The demands and circumstances of the current pandemic may be the most challenging any of us face in our careers, maybe even our lifetimes. Working together, we can help you respond in ways that support our members and your employees, no matter what their concerns during this difficult time.

Please contact your Continental Benefits Account Manager if you are interested in learning more about how to deploy this tool in your organization.

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