In the Moment: Being a Powerful Ally for Healthcare Providers in the COVID-19 Crisis


COVID-19 has landed heavier on no one other than our physicians and other health care professionals. Our health care system has had to pivot in innumerable ways and at incredible speed to respond. Many of these pivots would have seemed impossible just weeks ago.

I spoke with Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer at the American Medical Association (AMA) about how the health care community has responded and how the AMA has shifted, practically overnight, to support them in new ways.

Reaction time is certainly one key. AMA published their first article on Coronavirus in January, before it was even called COVID-19, and began developing a very clear strategy for how they would respond and building organizational energy around it.

Focus is another key. AMA established a COVID-19 Response Center as a focal point, connected to the CDC, WHO, government agencies, etc. Experts from around AMA contributed content to be vetted and built out by the Response Center. This was a complete re-orientation of content creation for AMA and a major pivot in itself.

Focus requires leadership, and the AMA Publishing team was an important part of that, along with Dr. Mira Irons, Chief Medical and Science Officer, and her team, who helped lay out the core of a strategy which could be layered out to their sections, governing councils, and the public.

AMA is physicians’ powerful ally inpatient care, and throughout this crisis has been fighting to overcome the obstacles that physicians face in battling this pandemic: lack of PPE and testing kits, the huge financial hits they are taking.

A big part of that is amplifying the voices of front-line physicians themselves. Listening to them, hearing their stories, making them into content, and sharing them with decision-makers.

Preparation is a big part of the battle, and AMA had been on a path of digital transformation for several years, which gave them a powerful platform to communicate, not only through big platforms like TV, but through email, web, and social in concert, consistently, and in a unified way. This has been another big shift for AMA, who are communicating more and in more ways right now than they ever have before, including video.

Finally, having a clear, sharp brand strategy has been invaluable. With unlimited choices for what they could do, focusing on what it means to be a “powerful ally inpatient care” right now became the lens through which to evaluate every initiative, in a way that has brought the organization together in impressive ways.

Listen to excerpts from our conversation here for more of Todd’s insights on responding in the moment in times of crisis.

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