3 execs on the battle over COVID-19 misinformation

The following healthcare executives shared with Becker's in October and November how their organizations are handling misinformation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:

David Entwistle. CEO of Stanford (Calif.) Health Care: We place a high priority on helping our patients, colleagues, and local, national and global communities access accurate and relevant information about public health. For the pandemic, we felt it was particularly important to provide resources that are widely accessible and understandable. Beyond our primary COVID-19 resource website, we collaborated with community partners to create a website devoted to COVID-19, with FAQs, videos, model social media messages, infographics and many other informational resources in both English and Spanish. Stanford Medicine physicians created a resource page for the COVID-19 crisis in India, and others created animated videos with public health messages about COVID-19 that have been viewed by millions around the globe.

We also had to ensure that our own staff received the best information for their health. Across our health system, our staff achieved a 97 percent COVID-19 vaccination rate, which we attribute to a strong information campaign to ensure that our workforce was empowered to make the best choice for their own safety and the safety of our patients, colleagues and community. Our COVID-19 vaccination communications included regular email messages to our workforce, organization-wide town halls and fact sheets in multiple languages. We also offered our employees one-on-one conversations with health providers about the vaccines and created pocket conversation guides of "Words that Work" to help providers discuss COVID-19 vaccination with patients.

Christine Schuster, RN. President and CEO of Emerson Hospital (Concord, Mass.): We have a very tight-knit community here because we're the only hospital within about 25 miles. We surveyed people, and we found that there was a lot of [vaccine] misinformation, particularly around childbearing. So we had our associate chief OB-GYN leader, along with our infectious control physician, and we had them sit down and do a roundtable and talk about the fears and present the evidence and the data and the recommendations from the OB-GYN Society. And that really went a long way. We had some women speak who have gotten the vaccine and have since had a baby or breastfed, and their children are okay and they're okay. So I think having that type of focus on education from trusted leaders can go a long way.

Greg Till. Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer of Providence (Renton, Wash.): I think it's giving our caregivers access to the tools, resources and information in lots of different ways. With misinformation regarding vaccines specifically, we've taken a multidimensional approach. We have communication videos. We've had closer-to-the-ground communication at the hospital level to ensure that our Black caregiver resource groups and our Latinx caregiver resource groups are providing their communities with information. 

At the individual leader level, we're giving leaders really simple access to tools and resources like FAQs, answers to common misconceptions, and we've offered everyone in our entire organization a free telehealth visit with a provider if they're still vaccine hesitant. So they can get on the phone anonymously with a provider in our own organization to have a conversation about some of the vaccine myths. 

When we see misinformation out there, and vaccines are just one example of that, it's really an all-in approach to have macro-level communications and change management tactics all the way down to the individual supervisors. 

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