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Supporting the Coronavirus Relief Initiative with Research, Communications, Digital Solutions, and Creative Design

At IQ Solutions, equity is at the forefront of our strategies and approaches as we address the plethora of challenges presented by COVID-19. Here, we present sample overviews of the broad scope of work we are doing to improve and save lives affected by this devastating virus; in the areas of research, communications, digital approaches, and creative visual messaging.

Spotlighting the FDA Virtual Exhibit Booth
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Agency: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP)

Client Objective: Create dynamic and attractive virtual exhibit booths for engaging with CTP audiences in 2020 and beyond—a period in which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread cancellation of in-person meetings and events. The virtual booths aim to replicate essential information exchanges that take place routinely as part of CTP’s exhibit program.

Audiences: CTP stakeholders and audiences, including retailers, health care providers, public health practitioners, school nurses, and educators.

Actions: In support of CTP in 2020, IQ Solutions:

  • Developed a “site within a site” as a virtual way to visit CTP exhibit booths and access CTP educational materials.
  • Designed five separate, interactive booths and a welcome page. Collaborated with CTP to tailor features of each booth for key audiences, and ensured the booths are scalable for future digital enhancements (e.g., a welcome video by the director of CTP).
  • Curated content for each booth. Blended this effort with a related project through which IQ Solutions revised audience and topic tags for all CTP digital materials within the CTP Exchange Lab, which hosts the virtual booths.
  • Included an avatar of the CTP Exhibit Specialist to enhance stakeholder relations.
  • Developed a multichannel promotion strategy combining paid and owned media, including email marketing, paid partnerships, and social media ads.

Impact: Ensured CTP has a robust and engaging presence at virtual meetings and conferences.

Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) Related Activities
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Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)

Client Objective: To support states, territories, and tribes as they apply for, plan their program, hire and train staff, and implement and evaluate their CCP.

Audiences: Disaster behavioral health professionals and CCP staff.

Actions: The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the IQ Solutions team to reprioritize work and shift resources rapidly when the pandemic resulted in a record-setting 56 disaster declarations for the CCP. We adjusted our plans for the year by quickly onboarding additional staff to support CCP grantees. We also implemented new, streamlined technical assistance (TA) delivery mechanisms such as weekly Online Data Collection and Evaluation System trainings, virtual office hours for drop-in TA support, and cross-grant virtual Core Content Training sessions. Below are highlights of the TA provided by the SAMHSA DTAC team:

  • Responded to more than 800 training and TA requests related to COVID-19 (four times more requests than we complete in an average year on all topics).
  • Delivered 23 virtual training sessions and webinars that trained more than 2,300 people, including FEMA staff, state mental health staff, and local community mental health center staff.
  • Converted two in-person training curricula and their associated workbooks into virtual curricula while consolidating the content in the training from 20 hours of delivery time to 8 hours each.
  • Developed the content for and presented seven webinars with almost 600 participants about delivering CCP services during the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures.

Collateral to Address COVID-Related Mental Health Issues
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Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)

Client Objective: To develop products and materials for Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) staff and other disaster behavioral health professionals to use while responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Audiences: Disaster behavioral health professionals, CCP staff, and the general public.

Actions: SAMHSA DTAC’s materials development work is based on careful planning, but also the ability to adapt plans to meet new needs in the field. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic required changes to our materials development schedule. The team quickly regrouped and planned for several new COVID-19-related products to meet the changing needs of our target audience. We developed new products, in English and Spanish, related to COVID-19. Our team completed all of the research, writing, and creative work and coordinated external review with subject matter experts and target audience members. These are the products that were developed in response to the global pandemic:

Drafting COVID Divisional Policy from Secondary Research on Pandemics
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Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) 

Client Objective: To respond rapidly and efficiently to the COVID-19 global pandemic by providing our partners with accurate guidance and information.

Audiences: Disaster behavioral health professionals.

Actions: As the nation responded to the mental health effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the IQ Solutions team rapidly responded alongside SAMHSA, pivoting quickly to develop and implement a revised workplan, bringing on additional part-time staff support for the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grantees to provide surge capacity, and adjusting budget projections. Within one week, our team established the new workplan and had onboarded four additional support staff. We worked with a panel of nationally known disaster behavioral health experts to conduct a survey of the research on mental health, pandemics, and physical distancing. We then created a policy document for SAMHSA and FEMA leadership to use when determining the appropriate interventions, tools, and approaches to delivering crisis counseling services.

These efforts played a crucial role in our ability to fulfill the needs of our client. Careful planning and communication with the client enabled our team to be successful during a stressful and chaotic time.

Federal COVID Response
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Agencies: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Federal COVID Response (formerly known as Operation Warp Speed).

Client Objective: To develop an end-to-end system approach to COVID-19 clinical trial promotion that quickly and notably increases participation in clinical trials for people recently diagnosed with COVID-19—with inclusive study representation from Black and Hispanic/Latino communities.

Audiences: While communications efforts are far reaching, specific emphasis is placed on engaging Black and Hispanic/Latino audiences. Along with outreach to key minority communities, the Federal COVID Response focuses on the following audiences:

  • COVID-19 positive patients and their loved ones (non-hospitalized)
  • COVID-19 positive patients and their loved ones (hospitalized)
  • Those who have been discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment for COVID-19
  • Those exposed to COVID-19 but who have not developed the disease
  • Those with no known exposure to COVID-19
  • Health care providers 

Actions: As a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, every aspect of our lives has been impacted. COVID-19 has left the public with many questions, as well as the emergence of harmful misinformation.

The Federal COVID Response works with IQ Solutions to create a vital, Drupal-based destination where the public and health care providers can find the latest facts for people from all groups, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds who want to help in the fight against COVID-19:

What makes the website unique is its ability to meet audiences where they are in their experience with COVID-19, and acknowledges that there are several, critical needs and call to actions. Audiences can learn how to join NIH clinical trials to help prevent COVID-19. The ever-changing and credible content is reflective of real-time analytics across the site and social media that inform what audiences are searching for in their battle to do something to fight COVID-19.

For doctors treating people with COVID-19, the website has information on how to refer patients for clinical trials and other opportunities to combat COVID-19.

Hospital System Signage: Posters, Flyers, and Tabletop Displays 
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Agency: HSC Health Care System

Client Objective: Inform prevention behaviors, both inside the health care system facilities and out. Evidence-based guidance on behaviors to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 interpreted in visual collateral, strategically placed within the health care properties. Topics also inform on health care implementations to ensure visitor safety.

Audiences: HSC system patients and visitors.

Actions: The production of a variety of in-facility materials, original designs, and artwork—they inform how to prevent getting COVID-19 as well as how to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Impact: The products have educated about HSC policies relating to HSC’s COVID-19 response, which has been critical to the health of its patients and members.

8 Tips for Improving Communication When Wearing a Face Covering
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Agency: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

Client Objective: Raise awareness of communication challenges while protecting oneself with a face covering.

Audiences: General public.

Actions: Created an infographic in English and Spanish to complement a Director’s Message that we published on the NIDCD website. Conceptualized several layouts, graphic treatments, and iconography. Worked with NIDCD to select the most impactful design and produce the infographic.

Impact: Promoted the infographic via social media, newsletter, and stakeholder outreach to illustrate how a few thoughtful actions can improve communication between people of all abilities, in the COVID era and beyond.

Stress Catcher: Interactive Emotional Coping Activity for Children
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Agency: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Client Objective: Develop a product that will help children learn ways to cope with stress and anxiety, especially in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide families with an in-home activity to help children learn about and practice coping strategies.

Audiences: Children and families.

Actions: Created a new “Stress Catcher” (fortune teller interactive craft product) for children to learn and practice coping strategies. This product was especially valuable for younger, school-aged children during the COVID-19 quarantine period. It is available to download from the NIMH website and online catalog.

Impact: This product has educated children about emotional coping strategies and skills they can use to manage their stress, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.