The 3 Es of COVID-19 Communication: Best Practices for Keeping People Informed

March 6, 2020 HMS

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is on everyone’s mind these days and with good reason. The situation is continually evolving and the uncertainty is generating anxiety among many. Health plans, employers and government agencies recognize their responsibility to share accurate information about what we know and don’t know about this dynamic public health situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines for COVID-19 communications, which we are referring to as the “3Es:”

  • Early. Reaching out to your stakeholders early and often is the key to combating misinformation and reducing confusion and fear.
  • Empathetic. While it’s natural to feel anxious about the current situation, communications that convey concern and that are reassuring can help people feel more empowered.
  • Effective. COVID-19 communications should build understanding and direct people to recommendations from authorities like the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as state, county, and local health departments that have the most up-to-date information about the situation at the community level.

During past public health emergencies, such as hurricanes and wildfires, organizations have turned to HMS to quickly communicate essential information to their key audiences – and COVID-19 is no different. With HMS’s Eliza rapid outreach programs, you provide the audience, the message you need conveyed, and we do the rest.

Eliza enables organizations to communicate using the channels that audiences prefer, whether that’s phone calls, text messages, voicemails, or emails. Our health communication experts are skilled at crafting messages that resonate with people, including culturally adapted translations.

As you develop your COVID-19 communication plan, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Convey credible, accurate and timely information in plain language.
  • Tailor messages to different audiences. As noted, this includes translations for non-English speakers.
  • Identify ways to reach high risk and vulnerable populations, such as older adults and people with access needs. Eliza’s rapid outreach programs support interactive voice response (IVR) calls, as well as direct mail and SMS text messages.

By sharing information and working together, the healthcare sector, government agencies, employers and residents can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and quickly address public health concerns as they arise. HMS is ready to help.


Get in contact with us to learn how HMS can quickly deploy a coronavirus-specific rapid messaging program for your organization.

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