Few events have changed our world more than the COVID-19 global pandemic. And that is particularly true for health care organizations. The pressures and demands of the pandemic severely stretched most organizations. Yet some organizations, because of how they responded to the crisis, report increased positive public and patient opinions. Health care organizations that 9R Health works with from Wisconsin to Massachusetts to North Carolina all have reported higher patient ratings than before COVID.

That led 9R Health strategy teams to search for underlying causes behind the changed perceptions and what could be learned. Three COVID-19 shifts were identified as fundamental influencers that health care organizations can use to determine how their organizations can learn from and build upon this perception momentum.

The three COVID-19 shifts found were “what healthy means” moved from largely physical health to whole-person wellness with an emphasis on mental health, a focus on being sick and needing treatment moved to staying well and wanting prevention and “where health care occurs” shifted from hospitals and clinics to patient communities.

COVID Bump Info Graphic

1| Shift from physical health to whole wellness

What happened: COVID-19 changed the way U.S. consumers are thinking about health care. The long-term effects of COVID exposed the reality of the need for more whole-person health care. In a McKinsey survey, 1-in-5 respondents reported lower physical health, while 1-in-3 reported lower emotional wellness.
What we can learn: While the stress of illness and all that is involved is known to be as impactful as the illness itself, U.S. health care consumers will increasingly expect that the emotional and mental well-being of the entire process is administered better by the health care community in addition to their physical treatments.

2| Shift from getting well to staying well

What happened: In many ways, consumers are taking charge of their health more than ever before. A 2020 preventive health study revealed poorer health of millennials (compared to older generations at their age), and an elevated risk of COVID-19 complications has spurred even many young people to take their health more seriously.
What we can learn: If consumers are increasingly using tools to get information on cost and health issues, tracking their health conditions and using data to make decisions how can health professionals become part of that journey as trusted resources to guide the journey to wellness?

3| Shift of “where” from hospitals to communities

What happened: Doctors and other front-line workers started meeting patients where they are: in the community (e.g., at drive-through testing and mass vaccination sites), at home (e.g., with house calls and even hospital-level care at home) and on their devices.
What we can learn: At the core, what COVID revealed was that ACCESS to health care should be a fundamental right to everyone and that traditional models of delivery often impede that right. Bringing health care to communities also humanizes health care. That, in and of itself, can make care more effective.

COVID shifts can propel health care population health management efforts.

In summary, the combination of all three COVID shifts provides a strong alignment with many health care population health management objectives. Understanding the significance of these COVID shifts provides the opportunity to take advantage of the momentum to significantly move population heath management efforts forward.


Since the pandemic, 9R Health has been working with health care organizations from Wisconsin to Massachusetts to North Carolina to develop actionable marketing efforts that leverage COVID shift momentum to significantly move their population health management efforts forward.


Cancer Screening Campaign — Wisconsin Health Care Provider

Working on behalf of the health care provider, 9R Health is innovatively leveraging the region’s love for its NFL team for a campaign to promote the provider’s cancer screening programs. Increasing screening programs that lead to early detection, which effectively prevent serious consequences of the illness significantly improving health of cancer patients. These efforts align with the COVID shift favoring prevention and provide hope of changing the odds for cancer and chronic diseases.

Rebranding — North Carolina Rural Heath Network and Special Medical School

In support of an innovative merging of a rural health network and medical school, both with a unique charter to protect and defend the health and wellness of the rural underserved, 9R Health uniquely created the brand strategy and positioning to raise the health of rural populations. The branding efforts are to better carry the healthcare provider and med school story into the community while simultaneously uniting and inspiring the combined staff of the two organizations. Branding that aligns all three COVID shifts, greater mental and emotional health throughout patient experience, the increase of chronic disease prevention for real gains in public health management and bringing health care into the communities needing it most.

In our full report on what’s behind health care’s COVID Bump, our strategy team offers possible “what you can do now” thoughts and patient stories that help humanize the COVID shifts, all aimed to offer ways to apply the learnings. To download the full report just fill out the form below.

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