Best Practices for Communicating OBGYN Services During COVID-19

November 5, 2020
Stephanie Sabel
Stephanie Sabel

Stephanie Sabel, director of clinical strategy at Welltok, a consumer activation company,

At a time like this, it is important for providers and health systems to establish an OBGYN communication strategy to ensure existing and prospective patients are aware of the precautions their obstetricians are taking to safely deliver babies and conduct routine appointments for those who are, or plan to become, pregnant.

While COVID-19 has completely disrupted the lives of Americans, certain populations, such as those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, face unique risks.

Among women with COVID-19, those who are pregnant have a higher risk for ICU admission and are 70% more likely to need a ventilator compared to nonpregnant women. While much is still unknown about the potential impacts the virus could have on the baby, the risk factors can leave parents and families highly concerned over prenatal care and labor and delivery processes and what their options are during the pandemic.

At a time like this, it is important for providers and health systems to establish an OBGYN communication strategy to ensure existing and prospective patients are aware of the precautions their obstetricians are taking to safely deliver babies and conduct routine appointments for those who are, or plan to become, pregnant.

Here are three simple ways to connect with OBGYN patients about the steps your practice is taking to keep pregnancies low risk during the pandemic:

Gather Accurate Information

Given that new data about the health effects of COVID-19 emerge nearly day, it’s easy for the general public to become misinformed. Providers can help ease the worries of their patients by offering accurate and concise information and bundling it into easily consumable content. While this content can be delivered in many forms, the crux of it is simple: to inform patients of their potential health risks and current options regarding pregnancy during the pandemic as well as the safety precautions and services their providers offer to them.

The goal is to ensure that current and prospective patients can visit these resources and quickly and easily find the answers to their many looming questions surrounding risk factors, labor and delivery and whether their significant other is allowed in the room during the process. Providers should outline a clear strategy and plan for their OBGYN services to provide existing and prospective patients peace of mind when choosing a hospital.

It’s also vital to ensure the information provided complies with state regulations and is updated frequently based on each region’s current COVID conditions. Health systems and providers should strive to be trustworthy, constant resources of information for those navigating pregnancy during this uncertain time.

Target the Right Audience

With the help of consumer databases and predictive analytics, providers can ensure that they are properly segmenting and reaching specific groups like those who are presently pregnant and those considering pregnancy in-system as well as appropriate out-of-system and prospective patients.

It’s important to focus on communicating prior to the third trimester, since many will have their obstetricians locked in and the baby may already be born by the time the marketing efforts reach them. By using medical codes from EMRs, health organizations can identify specifically which in-system patients are in their first and second trimesters. Additionally, insights from consumer databases can exclude those currently being seen for OB services like postpartum checkups and groups diagnosed with fertility issues. By leveraging both consumer data analytics and predictive algorithms, providers can ensure they are accurately targeting those who may benefit from their OBGYN services.

Implement a Multi-Channel Approach

Establishing a target patient group offers a clear idea of what information is relevant to these people and which communication channels will be most important to them based on where they are in their pregnancy journey. Targeted communications could come via a combination of pamphlets, direct mail, text message or email campaigns, and so on.

Multi-channel outreach can help boost patient engagement by reaching them in the right way at the right time. For instance, health systems can create an email campaign to share the precautions they are taking to handle COVID deliveries and prenatal care. Another approach could be to send direct mail that notifies patients of these precautions, like an informational pamphlet on new prenatal telemedicine practices that ensure social distancing measures are upheld. Finding the right mix of marketing materials can help draw new patients and make them feel more supported and confident about the hospital where they choose to have their babies.

While some are planning to hold off on having a child during the pandemic, that’s not the reality for everyone. Many entered the pandemic pregnant or chose to become pregnant during quarantine and need support from their healthcare providers to help them minimize risk during pregnancy and delivery. Helping your current and future patients to feel comfortable during their journey at such a turbulent time can have lasting effects on customer retention and future obstetrics revenue while also showcasing the value of patient safety.

Stephanie Sabel is director of clinical strategy at Welltok, a consumer activation company.