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How does healthcare communication need to change during a healthcare crisis like COVID-19?

Healthcare is a complex ecosystem that differs from region to region and all around the world. We consider ourselves ambassadors for consumers of healthcare who can help people make more informed healthcare decisions and we want to make the system better in all its various aspects. As healthcare communicators, we need to have the knowledge, the determination, and the courage to make sure you get the most accurate information possible.  

I consider it a privilege to be in this role, and I chose it because I can help tens, thousands, or even millions of people get better healthcare, which is far beyond the reach that I would have had as a military EMT and pharmacy technician, my previous roles.

What are the advantages of telehealth today, even outside of social distancing?

Telehealth is now, it’s happening. It’s going to be established, and we aren’t going to move away from it after this crisis. It is here to stay, now that this coronavirus has brought it to the forefront and forced patients and doctors to embrace it. It will be part of the American fabric, and people in rural areas are going to have better access to healthcare as a result of telehealth.

Mothers concerned about their crying babies at two a.m. will be able to get peace of mind with telehealth. We are going to see an improved healthcare system as a result. 

What do you recommend healthcare companies and organizations do during the current pandemic?

The important thing that healthcare providers need to do right now is to create a bond of trust with their users, their patients. Telehealth will not be used if customers don’t think it works well and meets their needs. 

Telehealth will need to address these consumer needs of trust and experience and become more consumer-friendly in order to survive. Our front line health workers may need to have courses on customer experience and seeing the patient as a consumer. If telehealth can’t win over the person that is using it, the walk-in clinic may become the standard, and telehealth will fail.

There’s a lot we don’t know about this virus, and we need to continue to learn and incorporate what we are learning into best practices that can address people’s comfort levels but not neglect their medical needs. 

This is a condensed version of the full interview. Read the full interview with Gil Bashe here.