How these seven hospital management tips could save your hospital

Written by Annie M. Planning for a crisis is the best way to prepare for one before it occurs. In a hospital environment, unexpected situations can ar...

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|Apr 4|magazine13 min read

Written by Annie M.

 

Planning for a crisis is the best way to prepare for one before it occurs. In a hospital environment, unexpected situations can arise at any moment and become unpleasant in a matter of seconds. Whether it's a natural disaster or a personal tragedy, managing a crisis during a code red is a test for anyone who has an executive position in a hospital.

With that said, here are some crisis management techniques you should know about if you're the person everyone relies on when times get tough. It could mean the difference between success and disaster.

 

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Establish a Communication Strategy

Your first point of emphasis should be to establish a communication plan without forgetting or overlooking anything that could fall through the cracks. Make sure you put together a crisis communications team that can relay any instructions outlined in your plan. This team should be made up of veteran communicators and senior executives who are trained in handling crises.

You can download guides at this website that provide more in-depth information that'll help guide you in establishing a proper communications strategy. 

Set Up a Crisis Threshold 

Next, set up indicators that alert you that a crisis is on the horizon unless you take measures to avert it. Also, think about the negative ramifications the situation could result in to both your organization and the surrounding community. When establishing whether you've reached a crisis threshold, ask yourself these four questions. 

  • Is there potential for this to cause embarrassment to the hospital? 
  • Could this situation threaten the hospital's reputation and credibility as a responsible organization? 
  • Will the media show significant interest in this situation? 
  • Is there potential for the situation to cause harm or injury to hospital employees, patients, families, or anyone else in the surrounding community? 
Identify Areas of Vulnerability 

Make sure you identify which areas of the hospital are most vulnerable to threats by examining the worst case scenario and preparing for it. This all-hazards tool provides detailed information about not only areas of vulnerability within a hospital setting and how to limit them, but other helpful crisis management information. 

Maintain Updated Phone and Email Lists

This might seem like an obvious crisis management technique, but you wouldn't believe how many hospitals forget to maintain updated phone number and emails lists of all personnel. This is especially important of members of the crisis management team, senior executives, department managers, board members, emergency officials, and the media.

All lists should include primary phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure you regularly update this list as new staff are hired and old staff leave (or if contact information changes). 

Prepare Pre-approved Media Statements and Responses

While the increase in car and cycling accidents won't put the media on high alert, there are plenty of other unexpected events that warrant the media's attention. When these events occur, it's important that you're prepared to handle them while exhibiting professionalism and a sense of urgency. If your hospital is required to hold a press conference and make a public statement, keep the following points in mind. 

  • Make sure you have a hospital spokesperson who's trained in public relations and crisis management. 
  • Don't give the media a copy of your statement until the news conference is done. 
  • Update your website with the statement as the spokesperson begins to read it. 
  • Once published on the web, email the statement to all employees and include the website link in the email.
  • Send identical emails to stakeholder groups. 
  • Make social media posts that link to the page on your website where you've published the statement. 

Here is another great resource that provides more information on crisis management (and the media's role). 

Create a Culture of Prevention 

Creating a culture of ownership is as important as anything else outlined in your crisis management plan. Employees should feel a personal responsibility to prevent crises on an everyday basis. The more your employees are aware of their actions and the actions of those around them, the better caution they can take to prevent a crisis.

Keep Your Plan Updated 

Last but not least, you'll want to adapt your plan as needed and keep it updated. Policies and personnel change frequently within the hospital setting, so it's important to remain vigilant in your crisis management efforts. 

Do you hold a position in a hospital that relates to crisis management? How do you handle crises when they occur?