COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home mandates didn’t stop people from needing to stay connected. When in-person interaction was restricted, the need for communication remained and the opportunity became unlimited – at least digitally. Such was the irony of the pandemic day-to-day, thanks to technology.
A study on people’s digital communication during the COVID-19 pandemic showed a vast increase in digital communication as the lockdown measures nudged, or even forced, people to learn and adapt to new digital communication methods. After only two weeks following the enforced stay-at-home order in April 2020, data collected from 1,374 American adults showed that 43% of respondents used text messaging more often.
According to the study, people have “developed preferences for these new approaches and may retain them longer term.” There was an uptake in digital communication through text messaging, emails, messaging apps, and video calls during the pandemic. This trend points to new possibilities and potential implications of how these media will be used in all other aspects of life beyond the outbreak, such as in regular health communication.
In a pandemic there is a need to help manage uncertainty and fear as well as to promote and accomplish adherence to quarantine protocols or any other necessary behavior changes to mitigate the spread of the virus. According to a paper published under the Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Initiative, “health communication is a key and necessary factor in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.”
Leslie Kelly Hall, LifeWIRE’s Vice President, Health Systems Integration believes that reaching people in crisis is about building relationship — how you make them feel, how their expectations are met, how you treat them in every nonclinical way. “Every communication should begin with enhancing relationship and healing and NOT only transactional communication.”
Regarding COVID-19 care settings, Kelly Hall underscores how ease of communication, allowing people to choose their mode of communication, such as text messaging, has been widely used by State public health for symptom monitoring, contact tracing, and directing patients to appropriate care — self-isolation, quarantine, primary or emergency care. She explains that ease of communication is key even beyond reaching people to engage and educate them and to manage and support their care; it’s now a strategy for vaccine distribution and management.
“Reaching people in crisis through texting for vaccination logistics and engagement can help prevent panic, manage demand and resources, educate, schedule vaccination, build trust and confidence, and get vaccinations to medically at-risk individuals first,” Kelly Hall said during a Health IT Standards Committee Meeting recently.
Access to communication technology is one thing, but how to really communicate care for better outcomes is the game changer. How patients choose to communicate matters — their choice of device and media — and ensures patient engagement, activation, and participation.
Where care that is personalized and on-demand is needed, much is expected from a patient communication platform. With LifeWIRE’s patented patient engagement platform, routine protocols, follow-up, feedback, and outreach are automated. Dialogue is personalized and relevant to the individual and their specific needs because response-based rules created by provider and patient are built into the messaging program.
In a pandemic where there is the need to maintain isolation and social distancing, communication must be conversational, not didactic. Technology should be invisible and ubiquitous — an enabler, not a barrier. That’s the innovative part about LifeWIRE: It is dynamically customizable for the patient using their desired communication media and language. It is not an app.
When engaging a patient is the goal, conversation tone matters: It certainly makes a difference when relaying information about diagnosis and prognosis face-to-face. Attention to tone is important in digital communication also, maybe even more so. According to Kelly Hall, it is important to communicate in “plain, personal, and possible” language, very different from transactional communication, as shown in this example.
Communicating clearly and effectively during a pandemic lies not only in the ability and capacity of providers but also in their innovative use of technology that can empower them to communicate with 1 or 10,000 patients with equal ease, while guaranteeing each individual’s privacy and the security of each patient’s data.
LifeWIRE is all that. Communicating care in language and tone that engages, allowing patients to choose how and when to participate and respond, ensuring privacy and data security, all to help improve outcomes. LifeWIRE enables providers to manage and deliver care, as it empowers patients for informed decisions and shared outcomes of that care. #BeLifeWIREd