Consideration 8


8. Promote positive patient experience and community awareness

Understand community fears and concerns


Listen to your communities and become educated on issues impacting them.

Certain populations may be wary of some of the screening questions and how a positive test could impact immigration status of themselves or a member of their family.

Some community members may not be able to afford a 2-week quarantine period.

Some community members may not understand the importance of testing.

Work with partners to address and mitigate community concerns.

Voices from the Field

“…one of the most important things is for people to listen. I think that so many people want to come into the community and tell them what they need and that is always the wrong approach…you have to come in and offer, not foist upon the community but … work with the community members who best understand the way they want things to flow.”
“…understand what kinds of social determinants of health issues might be impacting people…”
“We are also starting a webinar series for providers about how to better engage with individuals, particularly people of color to get them tested”
“There were some concerns about the immigration status of some of the people … I know personally with one family they had multiple people living in a single-family apartment … if we test positive, you guys are going to investigate and go forward with contact tracing that could affect the housing for the family.”
“...our mainly Hispanic population worries about ICE … they’re hearing hey, the police will get your info…”
“They cannot afford to be quarantined if they were positive or if they needed to not work until they get the results ...some employers may initially have been providing compensation during the quarantine period, but many either were not or they have ceased from offering that support. So that has discouraged some testing in various populations because of the fear of loss of income for their household.”
“…one of the biggest challenges is community wide apathy. How do you get the population to reengage around COVID testing and helping them understand, it is not just one time testing that repeated testing in a communitywide surveillance is a big component of why ongoing testing is needed?”

Dispel fears and build trust


Use elected officials from within communities to dispel fears and build trust.

Regular and clear communication and education can build trust within communities.

Voices from the Field

“ for dispelling those fears … we had a number of elected officials go down to a health center … and get tested on camera …it was promoted to say that it doesn't actually hurt to get tested…”
“...right now COVID is all about public confidence in our success in meeting this challenge will be maintaining the public confidence and communicating with them clearly these kinds of challenges, so we've been trying to do that, but that's just a constant fear for me is, you know, losing the public confidence and losing our ability to really manage them.”
“We had to educate people on a whole new vocabulary, and it's been a real challenge to maintain their confidence in what we're doing.”
“Communicating to the public about the specifics of testing, what it means and what it is, not only in scientific terms but in layperson’s terms so they can understand … it can reduce any anxiety that folks might have. We are seeing a lot of environmental anxiety now.”
“The biggest thing is that effective and efficient communication on the front and with all officials [as opposed to] we don’t have to let you know until after we do it, that has kind of affected some populations so they'll say they don’t know who to believe, they don’t know who to go to and then you're combating with what's being released on a national level as well.”
“Things were changing daily … so ensuring that all of our different communication outlets from the news stations to social media to website, voicemail recordings, billboards they all needed to align to where you could be tested and how you can either schedule an appointment or where you could drive up to be freely tested.”
“We launched a statewide campaign really promoting the importance of getting tested and the importance of protecting your family as related to COVID-19.”

Leverage community organizations


Get help from local community organizations to make sure your efforts are culturally sensitive.

Some community members will not access traditional websites or media platforms for information on COVID19 testing.

Building connections and trust with social justice groups and associations that regularly communicate to communities can help get information out effectively.

Voices from the Field

“The community health boards from the different communities have been extremely helpful in terms of providing guidance to make sure [material is] culturally sensitive…”
“A lot of the Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers have trust in their community, so we are trying to leverage that to get access.”
“…a lot of folks in our Latinx community don't go to our county website and they don't listen to our local radio station. They have their own networks and things that they listen to. So, we had to work with a lot of the social justice groups and advocacy groups to really form an understanding on how to reach out to this population.”
“Use local health clinics, and other associations like the National Association of Community Health Centers to help you get the word out and create awareness among those underserved populations. The thing is there are local community organizers, local associations that spend a lot of time on a regular basis thinking about how to communicate to those populations. I think that an important piece is identifying those partners that can help you get the word out.”
“you need trusted community partners to not only be the conduit to get information out to the community but to help organize the community’s attendance at these events. So, when we work with community partners who can take their constituents and help to organize time blocks for them and get the word out that really is how we become most successful.”

Centralized communication source


A central website can provide everything a patient may need to know about all OSCTCs within their catchment area.

Centralized communication can also ensure all messaging is aligned.

Utilizing existing mapping applications provides an opportunity to share information on your OSCTC.

A centralized source of communication can minimize the need for additional marketing about your site.

Voices from the Field

“We have one central website that we keep up to date with all of the different testing availability. We’ve tried to coordinate with our health department so … we were all saying the same messaging. We created a subcommittee that worked with communications for the city and county so that we could all be aligned when we want to change our screening criteria for who's eligible for a test … we include any COVID testing that we're aware of in the community, include that on our website as well and try to just be as clear as possible about which sites require insurance, which sites have a copay, it just basically depends on your insurance status and how they're getting their funding to offer the testing as far as if there's going to be any cost to the individual.”
“I just send the weekly update to the coordinator of the communication team of website changes and we are able to list all the different locations and when they do testing and how they schedule an appointment -- kind of the pertinent information about each site.”
“The Department of Health had a daily [Public Service Announcement] they actually published to their network every single day with a list of all the sites available.”
“We do share our locations with the states’ Department of Public Health, like a testing locator.”
“They call our call center, and we have our testing calendar and our staff is aware of our testing calendar so they can let people know we will be testing at this site today… which is really good for them to be able to get that information.”
“We hired a polling company … We gave them a listing of every single clinic around the country and hospitals and ERs. The company just called every single location and asked them whether they do testing or not, and then we collected the results. We called them twice just to make sure it's accurate and then we put them on the websites where people can find a testing center around the country.”
“We do have it listed on Google maps or Apple maps”
“We developed a homegrown … portal where you can go on and register to get a test and when you go on and do that registration that links you right over to our coordinating office …that team will set you up, confirm your appointment and make sure everything is done to get you to one of our locations, ensure that the time that you picked was appropriate and get you over to that site to get you tested.”
“One of things which we just launched last week was a website that allows you to look up whether a slot is available. So, you don't just go around calling 20 clinics, all of whom don’t have available tests.”

Strategic advertising


Signage is important both to increase awareness of testing options as well as direct patients to the sites, but they can be expensive to purchase and may have a long turnaround time for printing.

With limited funding, sites may need to think creatively about placement of testing notification materials.

Social media is a cost-effective and widely accessed marketing tool for OSCTCs.

Leverage the media to publicize your OSCTC.

Local artists can offer creative strategies to reach and educate target populations about testing.

Reverse 911 notification systems may be leveraged to inform the public about testing.

Voices from the Field

"Signage around the building for people walking by or driving by or on the bus was helpful. Signage in the front of local businesses or home-owners associations or apartment complexes so people know where they can get tested locally or even that they should get tested. Not necessarily at our site but the value of testing in general."
“We are looking for a COVID-19 testing signs and to get that customized we are looking six weeks out.”
“"Let's say I place a billboard …I’m going to supplement that with… recycling bin advertisements that we are utilizing which are much more cost-effective than the billboard, but the billboard still needs to be there. 
“We have options in mass transit for inside interior posters which are on a buy one get one free.”
“The main outlets that we have been utilizing have been social media is because by far the most cost-efficient, because everyone knows about that…”
“Our marketing team starts pinging all the local journals, newspapers, TV channels. We start trying to advertise it because testing capacity is a scare resource, so we don’t want to waste it.”
“I would say the idea of doing a press event to launch it made sense for our organization.”
“We have a pretty strong relationship with our radio partners, so we were able to do a number of PSAs with them just talking about the walk-up testing sites”
“…using the artists that you have locally and putting together info-commercials and videos and posters and things like that really worked well for us because these creative folks, they are getting a lot of material from just like a relief from all the environmental stress with all things that are going on. They are creative. To be able to put that out to the public in a funny manner that is acceptable, in our day and age and you are utilizing some of your local artistic networks. It is something that really helped us.”
“We did have a very low showing for testing at one site and we were able to use our reverse emergency notification system. We were able to blast out texts, emails and phone calls to different zones of the county that we wanted to get tested and actually after we did that about like 30 minutes after that, people start rolling in to get tested.”

Prioritize patient experience


Patients will return to your testing center and promote it to others if they have a positive patient experience.

Voices from the Field

“From the time they walk in, the welcoming, the greeting that they receive, the warm handoffs from station to station the clear process. Once a patient, you know we’re hearing the stories about how it’s so bad they touch your brain and blah blah blah… So someone is coming and they're already scared and nervous like you really want to do this, or my employer is making me come here and I don’t want to come here but if they can see a clear mapped out process that in front of them is laid out and they understand from station to station what is taking place that can at least ease some of their nerves and also allow them to talk about the experience of someone else which will bring that patient in. We keep it very clean; we keep it very simple…and in the end we give them snacks”
“I think it's almost exclusively word-of-mouth… COVID Facebook groups and people just commenting like, ‘I went to the drive-thru on [site] and here was my experience’.”
“one of the more recent challenges for many of us is just making sure we are engaging properly with patients. Making sure patients know that we are there for them, making sure that patients know how to engage in the process, right?”
“We had an 87-year-old patient come through about four weeks ago at one of our churches, and her experience from the beginning so she actually recorded a video with me, telling the community … all their network about the great work taking place in [OSCTC].”