3 Ways to Avoid a Post-COVID Care Tsunami

By Welltok Marketing

You don’t need a crystal ball to know the healthcare system is in for another big COVID-related challenge – effectively managing the immense backlog of delayed care and consumer expectations to be seen quickly.

Nearly half (48%) of Americans delayed medical care due to COVID and 68% expect to be seen in the next three months, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll. With many providers running at limited capacity, the system is going to have to work fast to re-engage people and direct them to appropriate forms of care (in-person or digital) so those at highest risk are seen in-person first for things like cancer screenings, childhood immunizations, chronic conditions and urgent care (heart attack/stroke symptoms).

Here are 3 ways the system can successfully respond to the backlog

1. Recognize that the “Amazon moment” for healthcare is here. COVID forced people to adopt more self-serve and digital care options; these habits are here to stay and can help manage demand. Many wellbeing needs can continue to be addressed using web and mobile platforms, through telehealth apps and video conferences. Invest in and promote these tools as ways to stay connected and support all aspects of wellbeing (physical, financial, mental and social) as a complement to the clinical setting.

2. Identify and target high-risk individuals. With fewer people seeking care, relying on clinical and claims data alone to determine health risk is no longer an option. It will be necessary to use consumer data, including SDOH insights, as well as predictive analytics to accurately understand a person’s health status and identify who needs to be seen most urgently to avoid catastrophic events in the future. As one physician recently stated, “your risks of dying from heart attacks or strokes far exceed your risk of dying from COVID-19 if you do not seek medical attention when it is needed.”

3. Engage people with relevant resources and messages that drive action. As COVID illustrated, one-size-fits-all messages are not going to cut it. Leverage our data insights to cut the clutter and only give people the resources they need. Use multiple communications channels (email, text, automated calls, direct mail, etc.) to let them know it’s safe to have an appointment and drive them to take action with barrier-breaking messaging like “[your org name] is here to support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know it can be hard to manage your health, and the added stress makes it even harder. Call us at [phone number] and our care managers can answer questions, help you find a doctor, and connect you to resources to stay healthy.”

Welltok’s COVID Communications Offering has campaigns with pre-scripted messages to help employers, plans and health systems act on these tips while moving between the various phases of COVID response. Let’s talk about how we can help you help the individuals you serve by giving them the information, wellbeing support and care they need.