eHealthcare Leadership Awards: Recognizing Excellence in COVID-19 Communications

May 17, 2021

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

jane-brubakerThe past 12 months have pushed healthcare organizations to adapt quickly and build resilience to meet the ever-changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic. Communicators in healthcare organizations have had to continuously anticipate the pandemic-related information needs of their organizations and communities and create multidirectional, multiplatform, multichannel communications to serve all stakeholders. It’s been a clear case of building the plane as you fly.

To recognize your Herculean efforts, we introduced a new category in the eHealthcare Leadership Awards in 2020 — Best COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Communications. Last year this category had more entries than any other category. In 2021, pandemic-related communications are still a pressing need even as the priorities in many areas of the country have shifted from testing and treatment to mass vaccination and achieving herd immunity.

We had many outstanding entries in the 2020 Best COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Communications category. We’ll highlight some of the winning entries in this article, and we hope it’ll inspire you to enter the 2021 eHealthcare Leadership Awards and share your own success stories.

Academic Medical Centers Leverage Their Strengths

There were many Platinum-winning entries from academic medical centers. These organizations are known for their breakthrough research and clinical innovation, and when COVID hit, they stepped up to provide accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive information.

UC Davis Health said in its entry: “Our COVID-19 website provides up-to-date information to our patients and community, such as the latest information on testing, safety, research, and more. Throughout the pandemic, we pivoted to ensure we delivered timely content based on audience needs.”

The digital team analyzed search trends and created content to address site visitors’ information needs. Because information about testing was a top query, the team created a dedicated page about testing that drove significant site traffic. A page with a demonstration video about UC Davis’s newly acquired Roche Diagnostic system with the capacity to process 1,000 tests a day rose to the number-one search result on Google. The entry noted: “We’ve worked to build up other pages and continue to iterate to create the most optimal user experience.”

One of the judges who evaluated this entry commented, “Excellent compilation of relevant scientific evidence, access to community measures, and specific how-to’s for patients and staff.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Communications category includes criteria for interactivity as well as content. One of the many successful components of the UMass Memorial COVID communications program is its “Everyday Strength” campaign, which is still going strong. This interactive campaign was designed to show support for the health system’s “caregivers … for their unwavering commitment and demonstration of compassion, courage, teamwork, and community support.”

Visitors to the campaign landing page are encouraged to fill out a form and send a note to caregivers to show their support. Stories and photos are displayed in the “Gratitude Gallery.” The campaign has its own hashtag, #umassmemorialstrength.


UMass Memorial’s “Gratitude Gallery” features thank you notes written to caregivers with accompanying photos and images. Grateful members of the community are also encouraged to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #umassmemorialstrength.

Organizations providing specialty care had unique communications needs during the pandemic, and their entries showcased creative approaches to communicating with stakeholders. Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center created an online resource center featuring high-quality video content, CME, and a COVID-19 resource page for news and updates to help educate and engage physicians. For example, to address one of the biggest questions during the pandemic — which care should not be put on hold — Roswell Park hosted a webinar for surgical oncologists.


Mental health has been a major issue during the pandemic. Jefferson Center, a community-focused mental healthcare and substance use services provider in Colorado, stated, “In the past, it was believed that one in five Americans would experience a mental illness in any given year. However, with the events of 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we now know that almost everyone has faced a mental health challenge this year.”

To support the communities it serves, Jefferson Center produced a six-week webinar series presented by the Center’s clinicians and offered it free of charge to provide community members with practical tools and resources to support them and their mental health during COVID-19.

A judge commented, “This webinar series is really nice — comprehensive, approachable. The webinars are long, even on demand, to consume, but they are deep with information. Because people cannot travel, these come to the community where they are at a time of profound need.”

It’s been a tough year, and healthcare communicators have stepped up in a big way to meet the needs of their organizations. It’s time to give yourself a pat on the back and get well-deserved recognition for what you’ve accomplished.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Related Communications category is just one of the 22 categories included this year. Did your social media or content marketing make an impact this year? Then Best Social Media or Best Healthcare Content are perfect for you. These are just a couple of the many opportunities to showcase your great work. And it’s not just for hospitals and health systems. The Awards program recognizes 17 industry classifications.

The Call for Entries for the 2021 eHealthcare Leadership Awards is open through June 30, and we look forward to celebrating your successes in person on November 6 at HCIC in Las Vegas!

Jane Weber Brubaker is executive editor of Plain-English Health Care, a division of Plain-English Media. She directs editorial content for eHealthcare Strategy & Trends and Strategic Health Care Marketing, and is past chair of the eHealthcare Leadership Awards. Email her at