So many of you asked us for a closer look at our COVID-era generational patient personas and the messaging needed to help them feel comfortable returning to you for care. During this Campfire, we were happy to take a deeper dive into our Gen-Z through boomer patients and their mindsets.

Watch our Campfire Session on Deep Dive: COVID-Era Patient Personas. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

On 5/15/20, Mike, Marsha, Stephen and Ann dug in, with:

  • our Hailey Sault patient listening research and insights
  • a comprehensive view of Gen-Z through boomer patients
  • an introduction to our COVID Recovery Framework, designed to help your brand successfully navigate through this COVID era

Here’s a summary of this session:

Thanks to our incredible health care community, we have in many ways flattened the curve, which means now we’re being tasked with saying, “Hey, come on back, get your care,” to patients we cautioned just weeks ago to, “Stay home, be safe.” As communicators that’s a really hard right turn to make. That’s a real challenge point.

There hasn’t been a rush of people coming back to care. What’s needed now is an active and intentional recruitment and re-engagement strategy for patient acquisition.

Job #1

In looking at all the new data coming out, the New York Times reported that possibly 25 percent of Americans feel like it is probably better for them to stay home for at least the next year. That’s not good if you need medical care.

Our number one job is to make sure people are receiving care. There are reports of people dying at home of heart attacks and stroke because they’re afraid to go to the ER and if that continues it could be our next health care crisis.

Hailey Sault: Fresh out of the field research

We conducted research at the beginning of the lockdown in early March about what people were thinking, where they were getting information, who they trusted, how they wanted that information and how health systems, hospitals and providers could communicate with them. We used that to inform early strategies as our clients began communicating with patients.

As access to in-clinic care began to open, we fielded another study in the last week of April to identify how the information that people were seeking was changing, where their trusted sources of information were now, and what they needed to know in order to feel like they could come back to health care. We also wanted to know if people accessed virtual visits during the early boom of telehealth.

The results of that study revealed: 

  • Consumer demand for information remained consistent.
  • Trust and reliance on information from the CDC and their own health systems remained high.
  • Preference for email communications daily transitioned into a preference for weekly communications.
  • Community updates and testing were the most important subjects.
  • Most people have deferred care, or had it rescheduled for them.
  • Most had not scheduled a virtual visit, but a high percentage said they were likely to do so in the future.
  • People expect to return to health care in 1 to 2 months.
  • Orthopedics and Primary Care appear to be the service lines that most patients are in need of right now.
  • “Safe” and “Safety” were mentioned 216 times. The biggest takeaway: Communicating about safety precautions and preparations in your facilities is critical to bringing patients back.

Verbatim answers to the opened-ended question about what patients need to know to return to health care facilities revealed they want to know:

  • It is sanitary and clean.
  • It is safe for their children.
  • How to enter and exit the facility (especially if they have to go by the ER).
  • How, where and when testing is taking place.

Research-informed personas

For well over a decade we’ve studied the health care consumer by generation. We believe that what happens to people as they live their lives affects their reactions and emotions—and in turn, how we connect with and message to them.

Research-informed personas

For well over a decade we’ve studied the health care consumer by generation. We believe that what happens to people as they live their lives affects their reactions and emotions—and in turn, how we connect with and message to them.

We introduced four COVID-era generational personas and discussed their current emotions, challenges, triggers and service line needs, as well as what they need to hear from you and how to reach them. Our personas included:

1. Gen Z, Mackenzie, age 23, single

2. Millennial, Tali, age 24–39, married, 2 young children

3. Gen X, Kathy, age 40–54, single mom, 2 teens

4. Boomer, Linda, age 55–74, married, 2 adult children, 3 grandchildren

COVID Recovery Framework

Stephen released the outline for our COVID Recovery Framework, designed to successfully move health care brands forward in the foreseeable future, using tools that involve:

  • COVID-Era Patient Personas
  • Positioning
  • Competitive Set/Threats
  • Services
  • COVID-Era Patient Journeys
  • Message Platforms


  1. Understand that your audiences want to be assured. They want to feel that you feel their pain.
  2. Audiences want the information/messaging they receive about this pandemic to come from their trusted health care provider—you.
  3. Safety is the key message, but must be nuanced with compassion and an acknowledgment as to what your audience personas are experiencing now.

We’re in this together

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders.

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