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

In February, with just 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., half of Health Plan Monitor and Health System Monitor coverage group organizations had placed some sort of public site notification about the virus on their public sites. We generally observed that health systems in the U.S. were more proactive than health insurers in promoting coronavirus awareness to the public. Still, location-specific health insurers that served COVID-19 hotspots provided information on their websites that included preventative best practices, risks and links to the CDC and WHO websites.

Several proactive organizations—such as 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 avoid unnecessary and expensive hospital visits. Other organizations, such as Aetna, also informed members of steps they were currently taking or planning to take to address coronavirus, such as 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 AlertFebruary 2020 Yale New Haven Health Homepage Alert

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, health systems and insurers are ramping up the relevant alerts and information they provide on their homepages and member sites. Now, every single organization in both coverage sets has placed some information about the virus on their websites. Many site alerts have changed from muted colors and inconspicuous text to appearing more prominently 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 have introduced new chatbot-like tools to their public sites. These 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 are providing 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 are informing members of their ability to test patients for COVID-19 and to cover any clinically-appropriate healthcare services related to the coronavirus. Most firms have waived cost-sharing for any necessary coronavirus testing, and some have taken even more steps to remove financial hurdles to members’ access to care. Humana and Aetna, for example, have waived telemedicine co-pays and limits on early refills for 30-day prescriptions for at least the next month.

March 2020 Geisinger Homepage March 2020 Geisinger Homepage (Truncated)

Telehealth providers like Doctor on Demand are emailing consumers with similar COVID-19 preventative and educational information. They are also offering discount codes as well as digital coronavirus risk assessments that provide more personalized preventative measures.

As non-essential workers continue to hunker down at home, the importance of digital resources to keep individuals informed about the pandemic—and to provide them with care—becomes even more clear. Corporate Insight will continue to track how customer communications from healthcare organizations develop to address coronavirus.

 

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