Johnson & Johnson urges patients not to delay healthcare due to COVID-19

J&J's medical devices unit is spearheading the campaign, My Health Can't Wait.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

As people sheltered in place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, routine healthcare visits fell precipitously.

Johnson & Johnson is urging patients to prioritize their health and not to delay their healthcare during the pandemic. The campaign, My Health Can't Wait, is taking a two-pronged approach, one focused on educating patients and the other on encouraging doctors to start the conversation with their patients.

Before starting this effort, J&J conducted a survey in June of 2,000 U.S. adults. The findings from that survey influenced many of the messages found in the campaign.

"One thing that really struck us was the fact that a majority, 88%, considered healthcare a priority, but about 70% had either put off some care or knew somebody who had put off getting care that they required," said Jijo James, chief medical officer for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices. "A positive finding was that if their physician called, 20% would go ahead and receive the care that was needed, but if they were not contacted, they were 40% more likely to delay care."

That last finding influenced the physician component of the campaign. J&J is using the initiative to urge doctors to proactively reach out to their patients.

The physician resources on the My Health Can't Wait website include an email template, surgery checklist and discussion guide, tips for communicating with patients during this uncertain time and advice for communicating via telehealth.

"The main message is prioritizing your healthcare," James said. "We're not so much telling them that it is safe, because that is a conversation that needs to be had between a physician and a patient to determine whether they can't wait for care. Our focus has been more on providing them with the information to make that informed decision."

J&J is using several methods to reach patients and doctors. The company has partnered with the Association for Healthcare Social Media to reach physicians and is leveraging its own employee network to get the word out, James said.

The initiative is being spearheaded by J&J's medical devices unit, but James said the effort is also supported by the entire organization.

The other aspect of the campaign is patient education. The website also includes discussion guides for patients to talk with their doctors, guidelines and FAQs about what to expect when going to an appointment and a guide to prepare for telehealth visits.

The patient effort is going out through a social, digital and PR campaign. J&J is also sharing patient stories of returning to in-person care and patients who have received care or surgery during the pandemic. James hopes the patient stories will help reassure others unsure about what a doctor visit looks like during COVID-19.

"When you look at the emphasis we placed, typically we would talk to healthcare providers and provide them with tools on reaching out and supporting them," James said. "There's a shift in this case to support patients, too. Often patients feel they're being talked to rather than being listened to. We're providing them with information that empowers them to have the conversation and make them share that responsibility around their care."

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