Healthcare, Now.

What we’ve discovered about coping in a crisis

By Corey Schwartz, Managing Director, C Space Health
“For patients getting laid off or losing insurance I am telling them to let us know so we can help figure out affordable options for medication rather than the patient just going without medications.”

Endocrinologist, US

What we’ve discovered about coping in a crisis

With healthcare on a crisis footing, disruption of the industry is happening right now. In a fast-moving situation like this, there’s one major weapon that can help – information.

C Space engages with hundreds of thousands of people – patients, caregivers and physicians – every day. They’re generating insights that are helping our clients understand how the current situation is affecting lives, informing and de-risking decisions about how to address those needs.

Understanding how healthcare brands can be the most valuable and relevant to customers (vs the competition) is crucial, and will be the real predictor of future success.

Healthcare as we know it will be forever changed. Helping our healthcare clients anticipate future opportunities and mitigate risk has never been more urgent.

Healthcare: What’s Now

Physicians are experiencing complete, radical disruption of their day-to-day realities. Those on the front lines are experiencing significantly increased hours, and COVID-19 is taking a toll on their mental and physical well being. Regardless of whether they are treating COVID-19 patients, physicians’ jobs are in the midst of drastic change as non-COVID care is affected. Elective surgeries or non-urgent appointments are being deprioritized, cancelled, or addressed through telehealth. Answering patient calls, addressing questions, and easing panic in a social distancing world is all-consuming while physicians also work through the economic implications on their practices.

Health care consumers – patients – are fearful and uncertain, taking extra precautions, and are hungry for local updates from trusted sources to help them navigate in a way that is appropriate for their own realities. Those with chronic conditions are concerned about potential drug shortages and they are anxiously awaiting guidance from their physicians as to how their treatment regimens will be addressed moving forward.

I am still keeping the office open as I have no experience in telecommunications. I am just not seeing sick patients with fever and cough, but I need to be there for the rest of them. You cannot take good care of patients via the internet. I may go under for lack of business but not being able to conduct a clinical exam is a big mistake to me.

Primary Care Physician, US

For patients getting laid off or losing insurance I am telling them to let us know so we can help figure out affordable options for medication rather than the patient just going without medications.”

Endocrinologist, US

My wife was due for a very important injection yesterday and called her doc to cancel it. He said, “No way! We’ll come out to your car and take care of you.” We set up a time, and they did.

Patient, Type 2 diabetes

I’m sick of hearing about it. Can’t turn on the television without hearing something about it. Even the commercials now contain something about it.

Patient, autoimmune disease

My job is being furloughed which is a worry as my income will reduce by 30%. Having a couple of young kids at home means I’ll be worrying about this for a while which usually increases my blood sugar levels. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on them.

Patient, Type 2 diabetes

Two confirmed cases in my city so far and trying not to get overly concerned, but with my weakened immune system and the fact that I am in my 50s has me wondering if I should be more concerned?

Patient, autoimmune disease

What’s Next

Pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity, if not a requirement, to rethink what information they share with physicians, what is the right vehicle/channel for sharing, and how to provide them with the information they need as they need it in a digestible and valuable way. For patients, pharmaceutical companies must re-evaluate patient support programs, provide and build awareness about financial assistance programs and provide reassurance that access to drugs will not be impacted.

Hospital networks have an opportunity to share what they are doing for their front line staff, how they are addressing patient needs, and how they are working with other companies (within and outside of healthcare) to get the right protective gear to the people who need it. For patients, postponement of appointments requires the right tone and clarity in terms of next steps. With non-urgent appointments being cancelled or rescheduled, patients may not have the opportunity to share the ailments that are concerning them, including indicators of more significant health conditions. Providing checklists or a personal navigator to patients so they get the attention they need when they need it will help avoid disease progression.

For Insurance companies, it’s time to step up. Simplicity, personalization, and timely, trusted local-level communication is needed. Healthcare consumers need guidance on what to do and what not to do, and they need their insurance companies to help them navigate this time more than ever before.

The Crisis Checklist

During this crisis, there are essential steps for all companies – although this is clearly magnified for those in healthcare. These are:

Understand your customers’ (patients, physicians, caregivers) needs

Assess and co-create your communications to be sure the tone, message, and action are meeting patients’ or physicians’ needs

Observe and analyze what your competition is doing

Reimagine the opportunities moving forward, by co-creating with physicians and patients. There will be a new healthcare world post-COVID-19.

“Because all preventative care has been suspended and going to the doctor for routine visits is difficult and dangerous at best. I asked about how it could affect me, and he said just avoid it because we don’t know. He is not taking office visits now for anything and will just call in meds if needed or do telehealth.”

Patient, autoimmune disease