Long COVID Campaign
Client: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Office of Healthcare Transformation (OHT), Strategic Engagement Team (SET)
Category: Strategic Communications | Communications/Public Relations | 129c. Other ____________ | External & Internal Communications Campaign
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Titan Alpha produced a communications campaign to raise awareness of Long COVID, educate providers and staff about the medical condition, and encourage Veterans with symptoms to make appointments and use VA resources. The strategic communications campaign included internal and external communication products to publicize VA’s efforts to standardize Long COVID care across its 1,321 facilities as the largest integrated health care system in the country.
As of June 2022, it was estimated that 4-7% of those diagnosed with COVID-19, or 2% of the U.S. population, will develop Long COVID. With approximately 600,000 known Veterans diagnosed with COVID-19, VA estimated that 24,000-48,000 were vulnerable to Long COVID. To provide the best care possible, VA established a system in which Long COVID care, support, and services were accessible to all Veterans across the country, no matter where they lived. VA and Titan Alpha developed a strategic communication campaign to support the Long COVID program, including four robust toolkits comprised of 135 individual communication products. A Whole Health Approach Long COVID Guidebook was published for clinicians, and guidelines for models of care were shared to support facilities and Veterans in all locations. The team provided internal and external communications to distribute the guidebook:
• Internal communication products socialized and distributed the Long COVID Guide and models of care with staff and health-care providers to educate them on Long COVID and VA’s plans to address it. It also educated primary care physicians who may not have been aware that a new Long COVID program was available in their facilities.
• External products publicized VA’s research and care methods and socialized the Long COVID program with Veterans. Additionally, videos were produced to raise awareness of Long COVID, educate about the symptoms, and encourage Veterans to make an appointment at VA. The videos feature Veterans who describe the symptoms of Long COVID in their own words and how VA helped them recover. Clinicians and Veterans also share information about VA’s whole health approach to Long COVID care and how it can improve the lives of Veterans.
The target audiences for the Long COVID campaign included VA staff and health care providers, Veterans, their families and caregivers, and the general public to inform them about the symptoms of Long COVID and the resources VA has available to participating Veterans. As the largest healthcare system in the country, VHA clinicians and researchers were among the first healthcare providers to recognize the national pattern that a secondary illness was occurring in those who had initially recovered from COVID-19. Because of this, the team also actively shared VA’s leading-edge approach and products with private industry. To gauge the effectiveness of the campaign’s messaging with the target audiences, the team gathered feedback from the Minority Outreach Communications Group, a panel created by the communications team that includes team members from VA’s offices representing diverse groups of Veterans (e.g., Offices of Rural Health, Tribal Health, and Women’s Health).
Internal communications products were distributed via a SharePoint site, broadcasting channels VA1 and VNN, and in VA waiting rooms. External communications products were distributed through press releases, conference presentations, speeches, and YouTube.
Following the release of the communications campaign, Long COVID appointments increased by over 250% between October 2022 and July 2023. Additionally, the number of Long COVID appointments for patients new to the VA health system increased by over 60% between October 2022 and July 2023. Long COVID appointments continue to be scheduled at an increased rate. These appointment increases correlate with key strategic communications campaign milestones.
Federal Team (Client):
Jennifer Askey, Portfolio Manager, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Melodee Mercer, SET Manager, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Titan Alpha Team:
Kristin Laing, Consultant, Titan Alpha
Steve Shreve, Senior Graphic Designer, Titan Alpha
Veronica Miller, Manager, Titan Alpha
Noah Albro, Senior Manager, Titan Alpha
Sarah-Doe Osborne, Gig Line Media
Manuel Crosby, Gig Line Media
Morgan Leschke, Gig Line Media
Raafi Rivero, Gig Line Media
Christophe Mondot, Titan Alpha