How To Build A Strong Digital Strategy (Hint: Start With a Vision)
Key Post Highlights
> Building a strong digital strategy starts with determining your goals.
> Remember to always think about the actions your audiences should take.
> Don’t forget to focus on voice and tone.
Let’s get right to it: You can’t build a strong digital strategy without having a vision. But you also can’t start the process of creating a vision without knowing what exactly goes into a vision.
Without giving away all of our CareContent secrets, we’ll fill you in on how we get the process going.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself while building your vision:
1. What are our goals — and what will happen if we don’t achieve them?
This is a pretty lofty task, but it’s also one of the most crucial.
The first step is to solidify your goals. For a healthcare system, these often include service lines you want to highlight to bring in more patients, or revenue streams you’re hoping to maintain or improve. A cancer research center’s goal may be to be the #1 destination for aspiring researchers.
For a nonprofit, the goal could be to bring in more donations. These goals can run the gamut, but it’s important to be as specific as possible.
The next part is to consider the worst case scenario. We like to ask what will happen if you don’t obtain, grow, or maintain [fill in the blank]. For instance, this could be:
- What will happen if we don’t grow our membership?
- What will happen if we don’t receive accreditation from a governing body?
- What will happen if we don’t maintain our current patient population?
- This helps reign in the focus of your goals even more and assists strategists as they create calls to action (CTAs).
2. Who are your key audiences?
There is a long list of potential clients — too long to list all of them here. But some of the most common audiences we focus on are:
- Current or prospective patients
- CEOs or marketing managers
- Current or prospective employees
- DEI or accessibility leaders
From there, it can be helpful to get even more specific. For example, think about your organization’s average patients’:
- Education level
- Current health status
- Potential health problems that could arise from their living situation (e.g., living in the city can worsen asthma for children in lower income families)
Values and beliefs
Also think about how your patients could benefit from your DEI efforts — and how you can go about meeting your DEI goals.
Without nailing down what your audiences should do after visiting your site or reading your content, you probably won’t have much luck in meeting those goals you identified in step #1.
In many cases, each audience has their own call to action (CTA). Some CTAs might overlap between audience groups.
We like to break these down into low-, medium-, and high-level “asks.” For instance, if you’re talking to prospective patients, CTAs might be:
- Low level:
- Follow us on social media
- Learn more about services
- Medium level:
- Find a provider
- Engage with content on social media
- Ask a question
- High level:
- Book an appointment
- Refer a loved one who is in need of care
4. How do you want your audiences to perceive you?
It’s time to focus on voice and tone. This is called your “message architecture.” At CareContent, we do this by giving a (long) list of words, and asking our clients to put each one into a category:
- Who we are
- Who we are not
- Who we want to be
It’s great to do this as a live discussion between multiple stakeholders, rather than sitting down to do it yourself. We’ve heard some fantastic conversations come out of people debating over certain words, and it gives the content team significant insight.
Some of the words we’ve had great discussions about include:
- Cutting edge vs. bleeding edge
- Formal vs. informal
5. And finally…a bunch of other questions to consider.
I may be CareContent-grounded if I go into further detail about every single question to ask yourself. So I figure I’d save myself with a quick list:
- Who will you need to interview for discovery? (Stakeholders, audience members, etc.)
- What are the potential risks and roadblocks?
- Who will be in charge of content and design governance? (Rules and procedures for how everything will be overseen and approved)
- What are a few of the main distribution channels you’re aiming to use? (e.g., social media, email newsletters)
- Who are your competitors?
- What can you learn from them?
- What differentiates you from them?
- What will you need in order to achieve your goals from a technical or policy standpoint? (e.g., certifications, new website hosting capabilities, etc.)
Still a bit overwhelmed? Totally understandable. The CareContent team is here to get you started on creating your own digital strategy vision.
Your Digital Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working — Here’s Why
Key Post Highlights
> Talking to your key audience is one of the most critical steps in developing a digital marketing strategy.
> Content needs to meet your business goals.
> Don’t forget to plan for content distribution.
Well, it’s very likely that your hospital’s digital marketing strategy isn’t exactly where it should be.
Here are 5 reasons why your digital marketing strategy just isn’t working.
1. You didn’t talk to a key audience: patients ...
We can’t stress this enough: Talk to patients. Current patients, former patients, potential patients, patients who considered your hospital but decided to get care elsewhere. All of these perspectives are crucial for creating a strategy that actually meets audiences’ needs and keeps them coming back.
At CareContent, we tend to break up discovery interviews with patients into several buckets: needs, fears, frustrations, and motivations. Often, we break them up further so that we cover both their care and the website. For example, we might ask them about what they need from their providers in order to feel more comfortable with a diagnosis, as well as what types of information and functionality they need from the website.
If you skip this step, you’re not doing your patients — or your hospital — any favors.
Patients will get annoyed when they can’t find the information they’re looking for the most — like if you take their insurance or if your providers offer after-hours care. Annoyed patients look elsewhere.
Health systems have a responsibility to provide their patients with the tools they need to improve their health and wellness. If you’re not utilizing your digital presence for this, you’re missing out on key opportunities to fulfill this responsibility.
2. … Or your other key stakeholders.
Since digital presence is a communications tool, the marketing and design teams are obviously going to be heavily involved. And we’ve already mentioned how important it is to talk to patients. But make sure that you’re not missing out on talking to other people who can provide valuable insights.
You wouldn't host a clinical trial by yourself. You’d go through all the proper channels. You’d work with researchers, physicians, funders, pharmaceutical companies, federal regulators — you name it. It’s the same with your marketing strategy. You can’t just pull things together by yourself and hope it works. It takes many perspectives and insights to create a successful strategy.
Don’t forget to talk to:
- Providers: They can tell you what patients frequently ask them — as well as the questions they should be asking, but aren’t. They can also inform strategy for provider-facing content, like pages about careers or educational opportunities.
- Call Center Employees: They get overworked and frustrated when they’re answering the exact same questions every 20 minutes, when those answers could easily be on the website. This also creates a back-up of people who actually need to get through on the phone lines.
- The Higher-ups: C-suite. Board members. Find out exactly what they’re hoping to grow over the next year (and beyond) so that you know what you should be writing and posting about. Which leads us to …
3. Your content doesn’t actually match your hospital’s business goals.
Your digital presence’s strategic goals need to align with the health system’s strategic goals. Otherwise, you’re not really moving the needle anywhere.
If the hospital wants to bring in more patients to the cardiology unit, but you’ve focused most of your content on oncology and women’s health, you’re not targeting the right people. If the hospital is trying to book more appointments all around, but you haven’t provided the right number or put the “Make an Appointment” button in a place that’s easy to see, you’re making that a lot more difficult.
Also Read: Goal Setting 101: 3 Different Ways To Set Goals In 2022
4. Your content is stale.
The content on your site can’t just be informative. It has to be engaging, interesting, and shareable.
This is why we recommend blogging. A lot of people freak out when they hear the word “blog,” because they view blogging as a rigid chore. So instead, they create “content hubs” or “resource centers.” Totally fair.
No matter what you call it, erase the idea that blogging is a burden and embrace the blog approach:
- Post frequently and on a regular cadence. Make a content and social media calendar ahead of time so you don’t post too sporadically or suddenly post every hour.
- Tailor content to align with specific services that advance your hospital’s strategic goals (see point #3)
- Create evergreen content. This is content that isn’t time-sensitive, and can keep on bringing in traffic long after it’s published. Remember: You can always reshare this content, or go back and edit it.
- Also create timely, relevant content. Mix it up. In between your evergreen content, write about the issues that people want to know about right now, in this moment. These posts can easily bring on the clicks and shares when posted on social media.
5. You didn’t include distribution in your strategy.
Okay, so you’ve read this list so far, and you’re thinking, “Wait…but I did all of that!”
If so, it might not be a problem with your content creation strategy — it could be that you forgot about distribution.
You can create all the amazing content you want, but it won’t get results if it doesn’t get into the hands of the right people.
Social Media Distribution
Social media is a must — 57% of consumers report that a hospital’s social media presence would strongly affect where they choose to receive care. However, you don’t need to be on every single platform. Put your energy into building a strong presence on the channels that will help you meet your goals and reach the right audiences.
That means doing your research. The social media landscape is always changing, so be sure to check current trends for the most used and fastest-growing platforms (Those are Facebook and TikTok, respectively, right now). Find the platforms where the user base’s demographics match those of your target audiences. It’s also a good idea to ask your audiences during discovery interviews about the channels they use most frequently.
Also Read: What’s Your Social Media Style? [QUIZ]
Newsletters are a great way to ensure that your audiences aren’t missing out on valuable content. A newsletter doesn’t need to be old-school newspaper style, with articles and columns made specifically for it. It can simply be a round-up of new content. Depending on the platform you’re using, you might be able to make newsletters customizable so that audiences can choose the type of content they want to receive.
Bonus #6: You didn’t get help from CareContent.
Okay, fine. This is just my personal bias.
But for real — our team would love to work with you to create a killer content strategy. Reach out to us and let us know how we can help.
These Post-Pandemic Healthcare Trends Are Coming Your Way: Is Your Hospital’s Website Ready?
Crowded bars, maskless shopping, businesses operating at 100% capacity — in many parts of the country, it feels like we’re no longer in the middle of a global pandemic.
As life in the US is starting to get back to normal, one of the questions we’ve been asking is, “Are changes we made during the pandemic going to be permanent?”
It does look like there will continue to be opportunities for many employees to work from home. And if dreams come true, curbside pickup will be here to stay, too.
When it comes to healthcare, it looks like COVID-19 will change certain aspects of the industry for good.
Here are some of the predicted post-pandemic healthcare trends — and what that means for your healthcare organization’s website.
Trend #1: Promoting Telehealth Offerings
Telehealth usage skyrocketed during the pandemic. And even though usage has declined since in-person visits resumed, the vast majority (88%) of Americans want to continue telehealth after the pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has even expanded telehealth coverage, so it doesn’t look like telehealth is going away any time soon.
Patients of all ages use telehealth, but the ones who are most likely to keep using it are millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Zers (those born between 1995 and 2012). About 33% of millennials and 41% of Gen Zers prefer virtual visits to in-person ones — compared to just 9% of baby boomers.
What This Means For Your Website
Boost your marketing of telehealth services and focus on how to reach the audience who wants those services. Remember that when you’re marketing to this age group, you’re more likely to get results if you keep content short and sweet. Gen Zers also are known to think pragmatically and to be very busy, so drive home how practical telehealth is for them with their packed schedules.
Trend #2: Rethinking Usage Of Healthcare Services
Wasted services, like unneeded scans or unnecessarily aggressive treatments, can harm patients and are expensive. It’s estimated that overuse contributes between $75.7 billion to $101.2 billion to wasted healthcare spending in the US every year.
During COVID-19, more than 40% of US adults chose to forgo some or all of their healthcare appointments or tests, including emergencies. For some patients, this meant not receiving life-saving care. But for others, it didn’t make a difference — or even benefited them.
The amount of delayed or missed care gave medical researchers data they have never had before as well as insights that could prevent unnecessary or overly aggressive treatments, and excessive costs.
What This Means For Your Website
The trick is to draw people in ethically. Amp up marketing of essential services that people often skip, like routine physicals or vaccinations. Advertise smoking cessation programs or free mammograms that will get potential patients in the door. Make sure that you focus just as much on what’s going to most benefit your patients’ health as you do on your profits.
Trend #3: Fighting Misinformation
The internet opens the door for misinformation — and that door was blown off its hinges during the pandemic. As people spent more time online or watching TV during quarantine, they had increased access to false or misleading information.
Some of this misinformation had devastating consequences.
For example, in the 8 days following the start of the rumor that injecting oneself with disinfectant would help them fight COVID-19, reports of accidental poisonings with household disinfectants in the US increased 121% compared to the same period the year before.
What This Means For Your Website
Throughout the pandemic, healthcare providers became increasingly active in combating misinformation — often on social media. Many attained influencer and brand-like status on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Providers who have achieved that status have major followings and a megaphone to fight misinformation about other medical topics, even when the pandemic is over.
Having a following isn’t surprising. A Pew Research Center research study found that 74% of US adults trust that their physicians care about patients’ interests all or most of the time.
Use this to your advantage. Choose a few providers to be voices of your hospital, on both social media and on the website. These providers will be seen as trusted members of your community and can help fight the spread of misinformation — throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond.
Trend #4: Focusing On Diversity And Inclusion
Not only was 2020 the year of COVID-19, but it was also marked by racial reckonings and cries for change in the US.
The racial divide in healthcare isn’t going to change overnight. But committing your organization to improving, and truly following through, is a start. And your communication efforts should reflect that commitment.
As healthcare professionals know, COVID-19 and race are deeply intertwined, with Americans from racial and ethnic minority groups having a greater risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, and a lower likelihood of getting vaccinated, than white Americans.
It has become a new era of diversity and inclusion in the workplace — especially in healthcare — and it is essential to be ahead of the curve.
What This Means For Your Website
Americans in minority groups want to go to providers who look like them, and their health improves when they do.
In addition to bolstering your efforts to hire a diverse team, step up diversity in marketing. Use your organization’s providers in marketing materials rather than stock imagery and footage. If you’re planning on using testimonials, make sure that the patients who share their stories represent your entire patient population.
Listen to Modern Healthcare’s Next Up podcast episode (hosted by CareContent), “Dealing with two crises Pt. 2.”
Just remember that at the end of the day, the real way to make a difference is to make actual improvements and not give out empty promises. Marketing your organization as committed to diversity and inclusion efforts shouldn’t be a smokescreen. Make sure that your organization’s culture lives up to what you’re marketing.
And that goes for your entire website.
You provide your patients with amazing care — and your website should show just that.
Whether it means making a few quick updates or doing a complete website overhaul, keeping your online presence in line with the latest healthcare trends is essential. Let the team at CareContent help you get started.
Is Your Website Accessible for People With Disabilities?
Whether it’s scheduling a dentist appointment, buying tickets to a concert, or reading the news, we use the internet on a daily — if not an hourly — basis. And if you don’t have a disability, it’s easy to take being able to do these things online for granted.
But for the 61 million American adults who have some form of disability, what many people consider “simple” online tasks can be challenging, frustrating, and sometimes even downright impossible.
That’s where website accessibility regulations come in.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires any US business that falls under ADA Titles I and III to have websites that offer “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities:
- Title I: Businesses that employ 15 or more full-time employees each working day, for at least 20 calendar weeks in the year
- Title III: Businesses considered “public accommodations,” such as healthcare providers, hotels, banks, and accountant offices
While the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) did produce guidelines that have been accepted as standards for website accessibility, there technically aren’t any regulations that clearly spell out what makes a website accessible. But in general, an accessible website is one that takes into account the needs of those with hearing, visual, physical, and cognitive impairments.
Crystal is CareContent’s resident website accessibility whiz, and she’s here to share her insight.
What are the risks of having an inaccessible website?
Crystal: An inaccessible website can alienate your audience and make your organization appear tone-deaf, especially if you serve patients with disabilities.
It also means missing opportunities to engage with your audience. You could lose patients and consumers, and decrease conversion (such as patients not making appointments after visiting your site).
This ultimately goes against your goal of improving health and wellness. And from a business standpoint, it can mean revenue loss.
There are also legal repercussions, correct?
Crystal: Yes, there can be. A user can file a lawsuit for discrimination or other claims against the organization if they are a Title I or Title III business and fail to provide adequate accommodations on their website for people with disabilities.
For example, Tenet Healthcare, which operates several healthcare facilities, was sued on behalf of Americans with visual impairments because Tenet organizations’ websites were not accessible via screen-readers.
Lawsuits are more on the extreme end, but they are increasing. ADA-related digital lawsuits in 2020 increased 23% over 2019. In December 2020, there was a nearly 100% rise over January 2020.
Has COVID-19 been a factor in that increase?
Crystal: Definitely. Quarantine has caused a significant increase in computer and internet usage, and with people spending more time online, they’re finding more accessibility issues.
On the subject of COVID-19 — accessibility issues on vaccine registration sites have impacted the ability of people with disabilities to get vaccinated.
The organization WebAIM found that in February 2021, only 13 of 94 state and DC vaccine websites had no accessibility issues.
Inaccessibility has resulted in instances where the visually impaired haven’t been able to register for vaccines without help from others. But with such few appointments available, and with them filling up the second they’re posted, relying on others can slow down the process. Many blind people use the schedule-by-phone option instead, but that comes with its own set of problems, like extremely long hold times.
Crystal’s Recipe for Redesigning an Accessible Website
Combine equal parts:
- Dedicated project resources for reviewing the website for ADA compliance
- Competent web developer to address issues found in ADA compliance review
- Consideration in the project timeline for the ADA review
What factors often get overlooked in terms of navigation and functionality?
Crystal: A lot of sites overlook people whose physical disabilities affect their fine motor skills, and can’t use a mouse.
Everything should be easy to navigate with just the keyboard. This includes menus that are easy to navigate with the tab key and a clear keyboard focus (a box around the section being tabbed through). When there are audio, visual, or carousel components, users need to be able to play, pause, replay, and advance with just their keyboard.
Every form field should have a descriptive label that doesn’t disappear as a user types, and error messages need to specify the exact error.
Also, use proper header hierarchy. Put the headers — the H1, H2, H3 tags — in logical order, which means that an H3 tag shouldn’t be used if there’s no H2 tag before it, etc. And always use these tags instead of separating sections with bold text. Devices like screen readers often scan text for the header tag elements in order to navigate through the page.
And what about in terms of the content itself?
Crystal: Pay attention to the needs of people with cognitive disabilities. Don’t use technical jargon, spell out acronyms, and define complex words. This is actually really helpful for all readers, regardless of whether or not they have a cognitive disability.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that any online health materials be written at a 6th to 7th grade reading level. But even the top consumer health websites, like Mayo Clinic and NIH itself, tend to be grade 10+.
There are a few ways to check your content’s grade reading level, like the “Readability Analyzer” from data·yze.
Just remember — the tool might see a jargon-y word and automatically calculate that as a higher reading level, without taking into account that you explain what that word means. In medical content, you’re almost always going to have some of these technical words. So you do have to take the scores with a grain of salt, but they are a great starting point.
If you’re struggling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a really helpful guide for creating easily understandable materials.
What are some overlooked media elements that designers need to keep in mind?
Crystal: Remember to always add alt text tags for images so that screen readers for visually impaired users can read the image. Also, add captioning for any video or audio media for people with hearing or visual impairments. Additionally, use color contrasting for text overlays on background or images so that they’re easier to see.
You may also want to avoid videos or interactive graphics that have flickering lights, since these can trigger seizures or migraines in people with certain neurological conditions. TikTok actually just created a feature where the user can skip any of this content.
Any last thoughts?
Crystal: At the end of the day, there isn’t a 100% guaranteed formula for an accessible website. There’s plenty of guidance available. You just have to put yourself in the shoes of users with disabilities and design and develop your website to include their needs. You know your audience best. You’re equipped to make your site the best that it can be for them.
Ready to work on a website and content overhaul to make your site more accessible? Let us know.
6 Ways To Cut Down On Zoom Meetings
“Zoom fatigue” was a 2020 buzzword — and for good reason.
On March 23, 2020, just a few weeks after the work-at-home boom began, daily global Zoom downloads hit 2.13 million — up from 56,000 per day only two months before.
Working from home is great, but the problem is Zoom and its cousins — UberConference, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet — created more time spent in often unproductive and time-consuming meetings.
Among remote employees since the start of the pandemic:
- They have attended over 13% more meetings.
- 38% have experienced video call burnout.
- 25% of working parents have spent over half of their on-the-job hours in virtual meetings.
Sources: Robert Half, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge
Why Senior Leaders Should Be Concerned
Too many virtual meetings will cost your business.
In a 2019 survey of more than 1,900 professionals, 89% of participants reported wasting anywhere from 1 to 10+ hours per week on unproductive meetings. That leaves only 11% of employees who actually find meetings productive. And 67% say that meetings keep them from getting their best work done.
Plus, it’s expensive. Americans lose an estimated $37 billion to unproductive meetings each year.
What You Can Do About It
Here at CareContent, we’ve all been at risk for that Zoom fatigue. But we’ve also been fortunate. Having worked from home four days a week prior to the pandemic, we had a leg-up on making video meetings successful. It just took making an extra effort to not go overboard with virtual meetings.
Here are some of the ways that our leadership has ensured that the team isn’t overwhelmed with meetings, both before and during the pandemic. Feel free to steal away.
“The goal isn’t to have more meetings just because we have the availability and technology to do so quickly and easily, without commuting. We need to get to, ‘How can we get our time back as a result of all this easy access?’”
Kadesha Thomas Smith, CEO, CareContent
1. Don’t schedule meetings every single day.
Choose one or two days a week when you can have meetings. And then stick to it. Unless there’s an emergency or it’s quick (max. 15 minutes) with one of your team members, don’t accept meetings that aren’t on those blocked-off days.
It’s okay if all you do on that day or two is meetings and nothing else. As long as you have other days set aside for head-down work, you don’t need to worry about not getting other tasks done on meeting days.
Also, having a few days where you know you won’t have meetings allows you to be more flexible — which is great during the pandemic. If you need to help your child with their schoolwork or run to the doctor, you won’t need to panic about missing meetings.
2. Or, do the opposite.
If you can’t block out a few days to have meetings, block out a few times when you definitely cannot have them. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are a no for us.
3. Don’t even have meetings.
Of course, there will be times when you absolutely need to have meetings. But before you schedule one, ask yourself — is this something I could just send via email?
If it’s not, voice recordings are an excellent alternative when you really just need to explain something rather than have a conversation. Grab your phone or laptop, open up a recording app, and start talking.
This isn’t just a time saver. It’s also a method for ensuring that your team member actually remembers what you said. One study found that 95% of employees admit to missing parts of meetings, and nearly 40% have confessed to falling asleep during them. With a voice recording, they will have something to go back to if they zone out.
4. Take meeting vacations.
Every 2 months or so, take a week-long meeting hiatus. No new meetings. No standing ones. Give yourself a whole week to tackle that x-y-z task list that requires long stretches of concentration.
And if you take an actual vacation — don’t call into meetings then, either. That’s lame.
5. Delegate meetings.
Senior leaders don’t need to be at every single meeting. If you’re swamped, skip on the meetings that are round robins where people just give status updates or discuss upcoming tasks.
Delegate someone to be the notetaker and have them deliver the notes in your preferred format. A list of bullet points, a two-paragraph email, a voice recording — anything that lets you get the key parts of the meeting in the easiest, most digestible way.
6. Invest in awesome project management software.
Invest your time, energy, and possibly a little money (if you want pro features) on high-quality project management software. It’s amazing how many meetings the right software can eliminate.
There are hundreds of different programs available, and some offer either free trials or free “lite” versions.
You don’t need to find the most elaborate program with all the bells and whistles. Find one that is easy to use, has good tech support, and communicates on your behalf so that you can cut back on meetings.
Cutting back on meetings might mean changing up your usual workflow a little bit. But once you realize how nice it is to not have meetings all day, every day, you might actually get something done.
What else would you like to learn about working from home during the pandemic? Let us know.
Virtual Valentine’s Day: Show Your Healthcare Workers Some Love
This weekend is Valentine’s Day — a day to send thoughtful cards to loved ones, give a gift to that special someone, and eat candy hearts galore (within reason, of course).
It’s a day full of love, kindness, and gratitude. This year, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, who better to send a heartfelt “thank you” to than healthcare workers?
Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers across the nation have continued to go into work to care for patients, support one another, and ultimately keep everyone in the country safe.
In short, we couldn’t have done it without them.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s take some time to thank healthcare workers and show some (virtual) love. Here are 4 ideas to get you started.
1. Donate a meal.
Food is the way to many people’s hearts — especially dedicated healthcare professionals who work long shifts.
Back at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, restaurants, and individuals across the country began sending pizzas, sandwiches, cookie baskets, and plenty of other snacks to local hospitals. It became a simple, COVID-friendly way to show appreciation for healthcare workers who might need a little extra fuel.
A year later, this is still a thoughtful gesture — especially on Valentine’s Day. As healthcare workers forego romantic dinners and time with their families, receiving a food donation can make them feel loved.
If you can’t decide on what type of food to donate — or you want to allow healthcare workers a little more flexibility — consider a gift card to a local restaurant instead.
2. Give them a shout out on social media.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine have all played a critical role in spreading love during the pandemic. This Valentine’s Day, social media platforms are a great tool to show how much you appreciate all that healthcare workers do.
Sending encouragement to healthcare workers on social media is simple:
- Take a video or picture or find one online.
- Accompany it with a message that sends hope, encouragement, or gratitude — or all of the above!
- Post it to social media and tag the organization you want to thank.
3. Round up your kids, and send them a valentine together.
If you haven’t already, talk to your children about how much healthcare workers have done for us. Then, have them join you in saying thank you.
Whether your child wants to thank one healthcare worker or one hundred, sending a valentine can show how much they appreciate them. Ask your child if they want to send a valentine to their favorite nurse, physician, or staff member, and if they can’t decide, address it to the organization as a whole.
Due to COVID-19, it’s best not to drop valentines off in person. However, there are other COVID-friendly options. One option is to gather some paper, crayons, stickers, and any other art supplies, and have your child make a homemade valentine. Then, stick it in the mail and send it on its way.
Or, you can send a valentine virtually. Use a free valentine e-card service (like this one), or help your child craft an email and simply click send.
4. Most importantly — stay healthy.
As healthcare workers put hours upon hours into caring for patients each day, the most important thing you can do to show you care this Valentine’s Day is to stay healthy.
- Staying home, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently
- Getting your flu shot, if you haven’t done so already
- Staying up-to-date with routine check-ups, and using virtual visits when possible
When you and your family remain healthy, healthcare workers can dedicate their time to caring for other patients with COVID-19 and other illnesses — a Valentine’s Day gift that everyone benefits from.
This Valentine’s Day, take some time to show gratitude and love for everyone that has helped support our nation through this pandemic. In addition to healthcare workers, consider thanking others, such as grocery store clerks, mail and delivery workers, construction workers, and teachers.
It takes a village to endure a pandemic, and with support, love, and gratitude, we will make it through together.
From everyone at CareContent, Happy Valentine’s Day!
At CareContent, we help healthcare organizations develop and implement a web content strategy. Let us know how we can help your organization.
Our Team’s Jigsaw Puzzle Game Has Been Tight During COVID-19
Let me start by saying that I was into puzzles before they became big (#Hipster). I started doing the 1,000-piece ones as soon as the pieces were no longer a choking hazard. As a kid, it was a special time I got to spend with my mom. As an adult, it’s a stress reliever.
When quarantine was looming, I already had an arsenal of about 10 or 12 puzzles that I knew I could redo. But I wanted something new to look forward to — something other than the box of Fudge Stripe cookies and giant pack of Swedish fish I’d just bought. So I went to Target and made my way to the puzzle section (which I could do with my eyes closed).
Imagine my astonishment when there were zero puzzles left. Zero. None. Zilch. I checked Amazon. An overpriced toy store. Same thing.
This had never happened before. COVID-19 was already cramping my style. But this was the rotten cherry on top of my melted sundae. No puzzles? I was DONE.
My mom and I finally snagged a few left on the Barnes & Noble website and resigned ourselves to redoing old ones when these were finished.
Pandemic, Puzzles, And Profits
We were not alone. It seemed like literally everyone in the US had decided to jump on the puzzle bandwagon with an unknown number of weeks (hah — little did we know) at home on the horizon.
The US game company Ravensburger had a 370% surge in puzzle sales in the last week of March/first week of April, 2020. They were selling an average of about 20 puzzles per minute in North America, compared to 7 per minute in 2019.
Other companies saw similar increases. Some even reported an increase by as much as 1,000%.
Puzzle makers across the country struggled to keep up with the massive uptick in orders, partly due to problems created by the need to social distance in warehouses. But that didn’t stop these dedicated companies from committing to fulfilling orders. For instance, the online retailer Puzzle Warehouse went from selling about 1,000 puzzles per day to 10,000 each day — as well as experiencing associated shipping delays — leading them to hire 30 new employees.
The Health Benefits Of Jigsaw Puzzles
It’s not just that people were bored being stuck at home. Jigsaw puzzles actually have therapeutic benefits. Completing a puzzle has been shown to reduce stress — which is something almost everyone needs right now.
Other benefits include improvements in:
- Memory (especially short-term)
- Visual-spatial reasoning
If you have children at home, doing puzzles together is a great way to bond, teach them about collaboration, and get them off of their screens.
The CareContent Team = All In
Alright. Enough jabber about jigsaw. Take a look at how the CareContent team’s puzzle game was on point over the last few months.
We’ll start with Lynette. She may have only done one puzzle, but she made up for it by gifting one to Natalie, taking up arts and crafts, and choosing a super cute one for the one she did complete.
Let’s move on to Nicole. Nicole wasn’t as into the puzzles herself, but her [adorable] daughters were.
Okay, now we’re getting into the serious puzzlers.
Natalie did six puzzles.
This was from Lynette!
And this was from a team gift to Natalie and her husband, Brandon, who got married in 2020.
And now …
Yes, I wrote this article. But I’m going to be completely not humble and give myself the award for #1 Team Puzzler.
I did at least 12, but I didn’t take pictures of them all. Here are some of my favorites:
This is one I ended up hanging in my room.
This is one my family got my mom for Mother’s Day.
My tiny nephew did this one. I guess it runs in the family.
Even my cat, Twyla, got in on the game. And speaking of which, this is who I have to blame …
… for this CATastrophe (look closely):
Thanks, Twy. Thanks.
Happy National Puzzle Day from the CareContent team!
It’s National Nurses Week — And We Celebrate Them Even More During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Keeping nurses safe is the #1 way to honor their work and let them know how much you value them. Ensuring that they always have personal protective equipment (PPE), that they can get tested if they think they have COVID-19 — these measures go a long way.
Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done in many hospitals. Hospital leaders are doing everything they can, but there is still a nationwide shortage of PPE and tests.
However, whether a hospital is scrambling for masks or has a completely full stockroom of them, there are two things that haven’t changed:
- Nurses are amazing.
- It’s National Nurses Week
In honor of National Nurses Week and the incredible job that nurses do year-round — and particularly now — here are ways hospitals can celebrate nurses who are putting their lives on the line during this time.
Recognize nurses. Gratitude is always important and this is not a time to forget that. After a long day of comforting scared patients or keeping patients comfortable as they succumb to COVID-19, a simple “thank-you” might not make them feel 100% better — but it can still go a long way.
Nominate nurses for awards. Another way to recognize your nurses is to keep up with nominating them for awards like the DAISY Award (a national award that honors extraordinary nurses who have gone above and beyond). Even if you can’t do a full recognition celebration like you normally would, present them with the award in your office or in a Zoom meeting. That recognition confirms to nurses that what they’re doing is making a difference.
Take care of nurses’ mental health needs. COVID-19 is a collective trauma that the entire nation is going through, and nurses are no exception. Watching the pandemic unfold directly in front of their eyes is sure to take a significant toll on their mental health.
Boosting Your Nurses’ Mental Health During COVID-19
- Remind them of mental health resources available.
- Place emotional support counselors around the hospital in strategic breakroom locations.
- Provide 24/7 emotional support and consider offering it to nurses’ families, too.
- Suggest apps (Calm or Headspace) to promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and mindfulness.
- Allow for group wellness breaks where staff stretch and do breathing exercises.
- Set up peer support groups via video chat.
- Offer free downloadable yoga videos or guided meditations via podcast to access anytime.
Encourage self-care. Nurses are even busier than usual during this time, but that doesn’t mean they should let self-care fall onto the backburner. Emphasize to nurses that they need to take breaks and eat full meals. Provide food so that they have meals ready for them whenever they can get a break. Some restaurants like Sweetgreen and organizations like Pizza vs. Pandemic are donating meals to healthcare workers, so check out these resources if you’re on a tight budget.
Offer reassurance. Reassure nurses that nothing has changed in terms of paid time off (as long as that’s true!). That might not be at the top of anyone’s mind at the moment, but it’s a reminder that you value them — and that when they get a chance, no one is going to judge them for taking that vacation time they so deserve.
Provide resources for childcare and pet care. With longer or more stressful workdays than ever before, and with schools and daycare centers closed, one of the biggest concerns among nurses is making sure that their kids and fur babies are being cared for. Look for resources in your area that are matching families up with nannies and pet sitters, or services that are offering discounted rates, and share these with nurses.
At some hospitals, nursing students who are stuck at home have offered to do some free babysitting, so this might be something to look into.
Go right to the source. Ask nurses what they need and about what’s stressing them out. Nurses are often self-reliant and don’t always ask for help when they need it. Just because they don’t voice a concern doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. And once you have asked, make sure that nurses know that they’ve been heard. Include them in decision-making processes whenever possible. Give them multiple ways to give feedback, such as prompts within support groups or anonymous suggestion boxes.
Be flexible. You might have great plans in place for helping nurses during a crisis, but remember that things change constantly. Always be on the lookout for potential challenges or roadblocks that nurses may be facing, and be open to creating new opportunities to help.
Nurses are strong, resilient, and incredibly hard workers when it’s just a normal day in the hospital. But during the pandemic, their dedication and passion shine through even more. So remember to celebrate them and everything they do — during this time, and always.
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“You Need To Get A Hobby” Is Not An Insult During Coronavirus Quarantine
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing, and the quarantine life is slowly but surely becoming the norm.
You may find yourself with extra time on your hands and in need of something fun to do. You might have the kids at home and be adjusting to home-schooling. If you are an essential worker, you may be braving the storm.
Whether you suddenly have your entire day free or you’re just as busy as ever, it’s important to take a break for yourself and do something fun. It will help you destress and get through these difficult times. And what better way to do that than take up that hobby you’ve been thinking about for years?
Or hip-hop. Or tap. Dance studios and teachers from around the world are offering free or low-cost dance classes for students of all levels that you can stream right in your living room. You don’t need to have the right shoes or wear a leotard — just make sure you’re on a floor where you won’t slip, and wear something that you can easily move in.
This is a great way to get moving and keep up physical activity while doing something that’s a little different than your normal workout routine.
Check out some of these sites to learn about free and low-cost classes:
- Pointe.com: This is a list of classes. The cheaper ones are closer to the bottom, so scroll down.
- TapDanceLessons.com: There are both free and paid classes for all experience levels.
- Fred Astaire: These are technically couples’ dances, but they are encouraging people who are socially distancing to still take the classes and stand six feet apart — if you can get this on video, it will probably be a major laugh later.
Become A Broadway Star
Well, at least in your head.
Broadway Weekends at Home is offering free online musical theatre classes (via Zoom) taught by Broadway and West End professionals. And for Broadway fans, this is hard-core geeking out time. Sarah Crane from the touring cast of Mean Girls recently taught actual choreography from the show, and Hannah Shankman from the Broadway cast of Wicked gave a talk on the process of making it to Broadway.
These classes max out at 100 participants, but you can find plenty of other classes, seminars, and chats with the stars. Check out Playbill.com’s list of upcoming activities.
And for the ultimate geeking-out for Broadway wannabes and musical theatre fans, there are often opportunities to perform in front of the artists for personal feedback or to submit a video of yourself singing to be part of a global digital chorus. These have deadlines for submissions, but keep checking out Playbill.com’s site under “Theatre Alternatives” for current opportunities.
Master An Instrument
Playing an instrument isn’t only fun, but it also has health benefits. People who play music have been shown to have better emotional release and decreased anxiety — which might be exactly what you need right now.
Learning to play does involve investing in an instrument if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, brush off those piano keys or dig out the guitar that’s been sitting in your storage closet. There are websites offering lessons for free or at a minimal cost. For example, PianoNet.com offers low-cost lessons (monthly and annual plans), and they have some classes for free on their sister-site, PianoLessons.com. You can also check out guitar and ukulele lessons. (Check out YouTube for free lessons, too.)
You can buy or download free sheet music on sites like Musicnotes.com, which also has an app so you can look at the music without printing it.
Get Into Coding
Quarantine might not be enough time to learn enough skills to create a sophisticated website that becomes the next Facebook. But there are many online classes (including lots of free ones) where you can learn the basics of coding. It’s not as daunting as it might seem, and it is actually very rewarding to play around with codes and see the results.
Plus, if you are going to be on the job hunt soon, having even the most basic programming skills can make your resume stand out.
Check out this round-up of Bill Gates’s favorite free online coding classes for beginners.
It’s common to hear people say that they wish they could volunteer but they just don’t have the time.
The good news is that now, you might finally have that time. The even better news is that you don’t need to risk exposure or even leave your couch to help others. Take advantage of virtual volunteer opportunities. For example, the smartphone app Be My Eyes connects you to blind and low-vision people who need help with everyday tasks like checking expiration dates. You act as their eyes via video call.
Or, try Crisis Text Line. Social distancing and the fear of the virus have taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 support for those going through a crisis. If you’re over 18, you can receive free training to become a Crisis Counselor.
And if you are okay going out, consider doing grocery or pharmacy runs for people who are having trouble getting out. Many delivery services are overwhelmed, leaving people desperate for food or medicine with no way to get it. Just be sure to follow precautions like wearing gloves, and washing your hands with soap and water.
Hone Your Home Improvement Skills
Paint walls with blackboard, whiteboard, or magnetic paint. You don’t need to do the whole wall — just a square does the trick (with the help of painters’ tape). These are super helpful if you work from home and like making schedules or idea boards, or if you want to give your kids something fun to do that doesn’t involve screen time.
DIY shelving is also an easy project. You can buy slabs of wood cut to the exact length you need at hardware stores like Home Depot. These stores are still open, and most have curbside pick-up so you can order ahead and not have physical contact with anyone. Then install, paint, stain, wallpaper — follow those creative instincts.
And speaking of wallpaper …
This is a fantastic time to experiment with removable wallpaper. These are just rolls that look like wrapping paper and don’t require any prep work. They peel off easily, without leaving any damage, which is especially great if you live in an apartment. You don’t need to stick to walls — removable wallpaper works for ugly bathroom floors (if you get the waterproof kind) or outdated countertops, too.
Check out this before (tiles so ugly I wouldn’t take a full-room picture) and after (the magic of wallpaper):
Create Lesson Plans For Your Kids
This might not sound like a hobby. However, you’d be surprised how fun it can actually be.
Teachers are posting their own lessons, but why not take the opportunity to customize lessons and tailor them to your kids’ interests and needs? Make fun flashcards, come up with arts and crafts projects, etc. You will find that it’s not only much more fun that it sounds — it’s also a really great opportunity to learn more about your kids’ interests and learning styles so you can help them and advocate for them in the future.
Make Your Debut As The Next Low-Budget Filmmaker
There is a series of [totally underrated] videos on YouTube that are insanely low-budget remakes of tech-heavy movies. They use household items like a computer keyboard for the ship in Titanic and Pringles cans and a toilet seat for the Quidditch Pitch in Harry Potter.
This will definitely take creativity and a good amount of time. But fortunately, depending on your job, time may be much easier to come by these days.
Would your audience be interested in learning about coping with everyday quarantine life? Contact us.
Your Patients Have Questions About Coronavirus — Is Your Website Answering Them?
Coronavirus has made its way to the US, and with the growing pandemic has come growing fear and confusion.
Your patients, employees, and members of the community are full of questions and concerns — and as a hospital, you have a responsibility to educate and be a trusted health resource in your community.
If you are not able to update your website daily, it’s helpful to direct users to sources that have the latest facts and figures, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But for information about the virus — from prevention and preparation to treatment to myth-busting — your website is the perfect place for people to get answers.
Here are some questions about coronavirus that your hospital website should address.
General Information About Coronavirus
- What is coronavirus? What is the difference between coronavirus, COVID-19, and novel coronavirus?
- How does the coronavirus differ from influenza?
- Who is most at risk?
- How does coronavirus affect children?
- What are some common myths about coronavirus — and what is the truth?
Coronavirus And Your Hospital
- How many confirmed cases are in your service area?
- How does this compare to the flu burden in your service area?
- How is the hospital ensuring the safety of patients and employees?
- How is the hospital protecting pregnant women?
- When should I stay home from work? When should I keep my kids home?
- What are the best ways to stay safe?
- Do masks and hand sanitizers really work?
- What special precautions should people with compromised immune systems take?
- What special precautions should pregnant women take?
- How can I protect myself when using public transportation?
- Do antibacterial products protect me from the virus?
- If I can’t find antibacterial products, how can I make my own at home? What’s the recipe?
- What does quarantine mean?
- Who needs to be quarantined?
- How do I best prepare for quarantine? Should I be stocking up on items like toilet paper?
- How can I self-quarantine if I have a family? How can I protect the rest of my family at home if I’m under a 14-day quarantine?
Diagnosis And Treatment
- How is coronavirus diagnosed?
- Where can I go to get tested? Can I get tested for COVID-19 at an urgent care facility?
- What should I do if I suspect I have coronavirus?
- Can coronavirus be treated?
- What kind of thermometer should I use to check my temperature at home?
- Should I keep my domestic travel plans?
- Should I keep my international travel plans?
- If I decide to travel, how can I keep myself safe on the plane?
Additional Questions And Concerns
- If I’m sick with something else, is it safe to still go to the doctor or hospital?
- Will the virus still be contagious during the summer months?
- If the virus goes dormant in the summer, will it come back with a vengeance in the fall/winter?
- What do I do if I don’t have a primary physician?
- What if I don’t have health insurance?
Help! How Do I Get These Answers Right Away?
Any time you publish medical content, it’s best to have a provider or medical writer check for accuracy — and it’s even better if you can interview them before writing to get the answers directly. However, during a changing-by-the-hour crisis like coronavirus, there is a bit of a time crunch.
If there isn’t enough time for a formal interview, ask a provider to send you an audio recording that you can transcribe, or even a short video that you can post on your site and social media accounts. You can also ask them for links to resources they trust and would prefer you to pull information from when writing.