Assuring patients they're in good hands: notes from Dartmouth-Hitchcock's VP of communications and marketing

Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health recently rolled out a new video series campaign entitled "Behind the Mask" to show patients how clinical staff is working to keep them safe during the pandemic.

The series kicked off June 23 with three videos of hospital employees sharing information on the processes they employ to disinfect facilities, manage screening stations and handle visiting guidelines.

Here, Jennifer Gilkie, Dartmouth-Hitchcock's vice president of communications and marketing, discusses the campaign's conception and implementation.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How did Dartmouth-Hitchcock put the video series together? 

Jennifer Gilkie: This was a team project across our communications and marketing department. The ideas came about as a result of listening to the concerns that were being shared by patients when they visited one of our facilities, spoke to caregivers or posted concerns to our social media channels. We wanted them to address real-life worries in an easily digestible, somewhat lighthearted way. Now we have plans for a patient survey which will highlight other concerns so that we can address them in this series, and we already have two more segments in production, one on telehealth services and one on our child life program. We are also working across our health system to customize them to meet specific concerns at our community hospitals and visiting nurse agency.

Q: What was the video series' budget range?

JG: Very minimal. We have an in-house small but powerful creative team called Creative Productions — almost like an agency — directed by Chris Cammock, who was able to take a grassroots approach to keep our expenses limited to staff time for editing and filming.

Q: How are these videos being disseminated?  

JG: We deliver care for a population of over 1.9 million people across northern New England, so we have planned a robust distribution plan including video distribution on a YouTube playlist, postings on our patient-facing brand social media channels (specifically Facebook and Twitter) and our Dartmouth-Hitchcock website, a playlist linked in our patient communications platform (myDH) and shared in our Health & Wellness email newsletter, which gets distributed to approximately 15,000 subscribers.

Q: What does the campaign aim to accomplish? 

JG: The goal is to show, rather than just tell, the new procedures that are in place to keep patients and staff safe and to share some of our staff's true passion behind the work they are doing to protect patients and the community — and each other. We want to make our community truly feel more confident and comfortable as we move forward with in-person appointments and resumption of procedures. In some ways, we want to show that the caregiving environment is just as safe as a grocery store! We have a lot of friendly faces behind those masks and we want people to feel motivated to not delay any necessary care because of COVID-19 concerns. It is an emotionally-charged time, so if we can help lighten the worries, we want to do that.

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