As COVID-19 has developed into a global pandemic over the last two months, Corporate Insight has been tracking how healthcare organizations have been communicating about the developing crisis.

At first, with just 15 confirmed cases in the U.S., half of Health Plan Monitor and Health System Monitor coverage group organizations used some sort of public site notification regarding the virus. We generally saw U.S. Health Systems as more proactive than Health Plans in terms of promoting coronavirus awareness to users. Geographically-specific Health Plans that cater to COVID-19 hotspots promoted information on their websites for concerned users that included preventative best practices, risks and links to the CDC and WHO websites.

Several proactive organizations, like NYU Langone, Intermountain Healthcare, Yale New Haven Health and University of Washington Medicine suggested users take advantage of their telehealth offerings to minimize the spread of the virus and to mitigate unnecessary and expensive hospital visits. Other organizations such as Aetna also informed members of steps the firm was currently taking and would take in the future to address coronavirus both in-state and in the case of further spreading. Efforts mentioned included collaborating with public health organizations, developing work-from-home practices to keep employees safe and monitoring the global manufacturing environment to address potential drug shortages.

February 2020 Yale New Haven Health Homepage Alert
February 2020 Yale New Haven Health Homepage Alert

As the novel coronavirus continued to spread across the United States, Health Plans and Systems increased the type of alerts and information on homepages, member sites, and website pages. Now, every single organization in both coverage sets has responded to the public health crisis by publicizing the virus on their websites. Many site alerts changed from muted-colors to brighter notifications on homepage banners and headers.

March 2020 Yale New Haven Health Homepage Alert
March 2020 Yale New Haven Health Homepage Alert

Organizations including Geisinger and UCLA Health introduced new chatbot-like tools to their public sites that provide COVID-19-specific information and resources addressing FAQs, anxiety, appointments, general hygiene, high-risk populations, quarantine, social distancing, symptoms, testing, travel safety, treatment and visitor updates.

Most health insurers provide information for their members on potential health plan coverage and benefits associated with coronavirus testing and care costs. Organizations including Kaiser Permanente and BCBS of Massachusetts inform members of the organization’s ability to test patients for COVID-19 as well as its ability to cover any clinically-appropriate healthcare services related to the coronavirus. Most firms waived cost-sharing for any necessary coronavirus testing, although some firms have taken more steps to remove financial hurdles to member’s access to care. Humana and Aetna, for example, waive telemedicine co-pays and limits on early refills for 30-day prescriptions for at least the next month.

March 2020 Geisinger Homepage (Truncated)
March 2020 Geisinger Homepage (Truncated)

Telehealth providers like Doctor on Demand are emailing consumers with similar COVID-19 preventative and educational information as well as offering discount codes and digital coronavirus risk assessments with more personalized preventative measures. As many individuals continue to hunker down at home, overwhelmingly we continue to see the importance of digital resources to help address care delivery needs and help keep customers educated with the most up-to-date information. Corporate Insight will continue to track how consumer communications from healthcare organizations develop to address coronavirus.