Three lessons COVID-19 taught us about successful crisis communications in the Healthcare Industry

Tuesday, Jun 28th 2022
spray cleaning door handle with sanitizer

A guest article by Mitch Kocen from Geisinger Health Plan

COVID-19 outbreak created unique communication challenges for the healthcare industry. Sharing prevention information, costs for testing and treatment, vital information about the disease and how it spreads – our members and patients relied on regular, accurate and accessible messages to navigate this new and uncertain world. Here are three tips that helped shape our communication strategy during this time.


With so much information floating around, it was more important than ever to target messaging. The information we shared had to be relevant to cut through the noise. Using member data and variable text in Quadient Inspire, we were able to focus letters to tell members what they needed to know. 

Members were more inclined to read what we had to say because they could trust that the communications would matter to them; it wasn’t just a blanket communication going out to all members.

Stay in your lane

In the early days of COVID-19, our colleagues in the health system’s marketing team worked tirelessly to educate, reassure and motivate patients. They quickly set up a centralized COVID-19 communication hub and populated the hub with articles about the virus and how to protect yourself from it. Our team focused on communication relevant to health plan members: what COVID-19 related testing and treatment would cost, how to safely access care and so on. Given the negative reaction unrelated industries like fast food and shopping brands received from trying to remind people to wash their hands, we wanted to be sure that we were speaking on topics that were relevant to our sector and not just sharing health tips because everyone else was. 

This was especially important as COVID-19 protections increased at doctor’s offices throughout our region. We wanted to reassure our members that it was safe to seek care, receive check-ups and schedule elective procedures. Because members knew they could count on communications from us being relevant to health plan business, they were more receptive as we encouraged members to restart their healthcare journey.

Reinforce with existing content

In the early days of COVID-19, people were bombarded with messages – emails, letters, commercials. We knew we needed to share vital information, but we didn’t want to bombard our members. After sending initial letters out to members reassuring them about costs and access, we shifted to directing traffic to the existing content on our COVID-19 online hub. 

This had a few benefits: First, the content would always be fresh and accurate, something you can’t guarantee with direct mail. Secondly, we could attach those messages to unrelated communications to limit the number of touchpoints we were forcing on the members. Members continue to have access to information they need without feeling overwhelmed.

This is an excellent use-case for Quadient Inspire’s whitespace management. You can create what is effectively a banner ad on your scheduled letters to direct your members to your communications hub. The message will only appear when there’s a pre-defined amount of space so that it won’t crowd the letter content. It’s especially well-suited for letters with a lot of variable data that sometimes leave large amounts of blank space for certain recipients.

Mitch Kocen





Mitchell Kocen, Staff Writer, Geisinger Health Plan

As a staff writer for Geisinger Health Plan, Mitchell directly influences the member experience by crafting informative, clear and friendly communication. From letters to forms to marketing campaigns, Mitchell crafts a message that helps Geisinger Health Plan’s members successfully navigate their healthcare journey. Mitchell has a BA in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz and has more than a decade of experience as a professional writer. In his spare time, he dabbles in music and video game journalism.