During the pandemic, any number of people abandoned routines as they were plunged into an unexpected new reality. And among the most important items passed over on many to-do lists was preventative medical care.

In one survey, 41% of respondents reported putting off medical care during the pandemic; another study found that the rate of colonoscopies dropped by around 90%. Now, as the country enters a new phase of living with COVID, testing giant Labcorp is pushing for individuals to resume routine checkups.

The organization has adopted a social- and influencer-first strategy for its “Make Way for Better” campaign, which aims to encourage individuals to prioritize their healthcare — and especially essential regular screenings. The effort showcases the work of artist Rudy Willingham.

“It was the women and men on our team — in the target market of people in their 30s and 40s — who came up with Rudy,” recalled Labcorp EVP and CMO Amy Summy. “They wanted to take a fresh, new angle, and he is very creative and engages people.”

Summy characterized the campaign audience as a difficult one to reach.

“Even before the pandemic, these were people who were often not that engaged with their healthcare,” she noted. “They were hard to educate around the importance of health screening and health testing.”

The campaign’s social push — featuring a dedicated microsite pushed via Instagram, Twitter and TikTok — is in large part driven by that audience. At the same time, Summy views social channels as vital at a time when hybrid work situations remain common and “normal” continues to prove elusive.

“Digital is outperforming other options,” she said. “Once people get back to traveling, maybe we’ll think about events and about what we are doing with sales materials. Social-plus is what I will look for as people start to get back in the office.”

Summy is optimistic that the positive tone of “Make Way for Better” will resonate.

“It’s using engaging content to say that it is time to go back to life,” she said, noting that the campaign has achieved many of its goals in a mere 2.5 weeks. “People are hungry for a fresh perspective on why they should take care of their health and why it matters.”

Of course, it will take a whole lot more than a public awareness campaign to prompt widespread routine testing. Summy pointed to three main obstacles: education, access and affordability.

Efforts like Labcorp OnDemand increase access by allowing patients to test at home or at testing centers. Labcorp’s leveraging of government funds and insurance programs helped make its COVID-19 tests available without any upfront costs.

But the education component has proven a headier challenge. “It is very difficult, as a woman in her 50s, to find one place that provides a checklist of which screenings I need,” Summy said.

“Marketers in the healthcare industry have such an upside opportunity at improving the relatability of their information. It is kind of an obligation,” she continued. “We all have good products that can improve lives and improve health outcomes, but we have to help patients understand them.”