While Covid-19 has accelerated advances in digital healthcare, the pandemic has also exposed the acute need for individuals to have better access to clear, accurate health information — particularly given the proliferation of misinformation being consumed.

“What’s so dangerous that we have realized during this pandemic is that people make the wrong choices based on their access to information,” said Dr. Geeta Nayyar, Saleforce’s executive medical director and an expert in healthcare information technology. In turn, it’s critical that the healthcare industry, and the communicators that support it, get accurate information to consumers in ways they understand it.

Nayyar’s comments Wednesday were part of a at PRovoke Media’s 2021 North American Summit panel discussion that focused on the how the Covid pandemic has revolutionized the delivery of healthcare. Terri Sanders, SVP of enterprise marketing and communications for nonprofit HIMSS and W2O founder and CEO Jim Weiss also participated, while PRovoke Media's Aarti Shah moderated the keynote session. 


Sanders, whose organization focuses on improving healthcare through technology and systems, said there’s “an urgent need” for the healthcare industry to make communications a priority, given the proliferation of misinformation people are consuming.

“One wrong message can be detrimental in today’s world,” Sanders said. Just as important is that health information be provided in ways that different audiences can understand.

“Too often our communications and healthcare are too complicated, and you’ve automatically lost your audience straight out the gate,” she said. “We need to understand people’s educational levels, what language they speak. We need to personalize here.”

Weiss stressed the importance of communications being at the center of those efforts, given the range of challenges.

“Communications need to be right at the heart of the marketing mechanism,” said Weiss. “Communications is leadership and leadership is communications.”

All of which, speakers said, points to problems that were in play before the pandemic and need to be remedied to advance the healthcare system.

“The stakes are really high. They have always been high Covid or not,” Nayyar said. “And it really is a call to action for marcomms right now and organizations thinking about digital engagement in new and innovative way.”

“When we talk to customers, what we really talk about is how do we get to the new exceptional, we don’t want to go back to normal. The legacy systems are not going to get us to the next exceptional,” she said.