Campus health concerns open new doors for colleges and universities

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Colleges and universities have long been known for healthcare delivery that specialized in treating twisted ankles, food poisoning, or Category 5 hangovers.

But today, students (and their parents) need more, and it starts with two crucial elements: Clear policies and clear communication.

For college marketing directors, COVID-19 communications can be a doctoral-level opportunity to bolster admissions, secure student retention, strengthen parent (i.e. payer) communications – and protect both school revenue and reputation.

Leaving the herd

The best example of a forward-looking university/healthcare partnership can be seen in Hartford Healthcare, which has already heard the call of the campus.

Its Campus Care Program, under development at Connecticut College, Trinity College, and University of Hartford includes “student healthcare, urgent care, behavioral health services, sports medicine and athletic training, as well as access to a state-of-the-art medical records system.”

The benefits for colleges are clear: 1. A healthier campus. 2. A feeling of safety for students and parents. 3. Compliance and accountability with state policies. And, 4. Enrollment and revenue protection. [What does Hartford Healthcare get? That’s easy: The next generation of healthcare consumers.]

5 ways schools can take action

If your school can partner with local or regional healthcare organizations for enhanced on-campus healthcare delivery, great. But even if such a partnership is absent, clear communications surrounding on-campus health issues will serve larger goals.

    • Parent communications. Clearly spelled out policies in email, direct mail, and web pages are where to start. You can begin by addressing all action steps regarding COVID-19 protocols – testing resources, quarantine policies, dorm life, PPE usage, and so forth. The more detail, the better. For extra credit: Go further and list local healthcare resources, from primary care to urgent and emergency care. Parents will perceive that you recognize the campus is not an island and that you’re dialed in to the issue of community health.
    • Student-centric communications. Reaching students (who are older Gen Z members) requires different messaging, media, and frequency. Consider a 2-semester campaign with messages that center on peer pressure and worst-case scenarios for students. And stay current with how this age bracket perceives the news.
    • Co-branded communications. If a healthcare partnership is in place, get the word out. From brochures to posters to web pages, seek ways to stand both brands together in all communications. Make the positioning clear: We are working together to improve on-campus health. Ask Hartford Healthcare: The media will eat it up.
    • Alumni & Development communications. Let donors at every level know about the school’s plans, procedures, and preparations for healthcare on campus. It will help ensure that value perceptions associated with their alma mater are protected, as well as giving levels.
    • Curriculum integration? Down the line, what if schools that offered degree programs in medicine or health policy developed course content based on their experience with their healthcare partners? Talk about the value of repurposed content!

Diagnosing opportunities

Detailed contingency planning is already underway for how schools will reopen this fall. That dialogue should include opportunities hiding just below the surface of the public health issues we’re facing.

If you’re interested, contact us. We’re ready to share a beverage, or a conversation, or both.