Tips for Crisis Management In Health Care

by Martha Scully

As a healthcare professional, dealing with major issues in your field should be second nature. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Crisis management in healthcare is something that all health professionals should be trained in. Whether it’s managing a live crisis within the hospital or a PR crisis that could affect the reputation of your company, crisis management in healthcare should continually be monitored. How you and your facility handle pressure is an important way to prove that you’re a reliable place to go for care. Below are a variety of tips that you should consider when dealing with crisis management in healthcare.

Crisis Management In Healthcare


Start With Your Disaster Plan

The best place to start in crisis management in healthcare is with the worst possible scenario. Although it sounds a little extreme, it’s best to start with the worst possible situation. First, you’ll want to ensure that the infrastructure is able to accommodate a crisis. Establish a team to brainstorm possible worst-case scenarios. Prepare for each of those problems and formulate response plans. It’s also a good idea to go over the layout of your facility. Make sure there are no locations that will be bottlenecked and no locations that could potentially stall the rest of your healthcare providers.

When developing a disaster plan, consider adding public relations management to the plan so that the media can become an asset instead of an adversary. As with disaster planning, managing the media and community opinion is essential to the survival of the facility and its reputation. We’ll get into managing the media and executing best practices for PR shortly. Flexibility Is Crucial

No matter how much you prepare for a crisis, you’re always going to get the unexpected. At some point, a crisis manual can only do so much, so it will be up to you and the rest of the staff to manage things properly. Be transparent with communication, while finding a balance between protecting stakeholders and the community–ethical conduct and open communication are essential to an organization in crisis.

You might have to provide information to media or patients before you have the whole story, so make sure to meet with your crisis management team before giving a statement. This way you are all on the same page and everyone knows as much information as possible before making a statement. As long as your team remains in constant communication with the rest of your staff, you can assure that your crisis management will run as smooth as possible.

Handling The Media During a Crisis

When dealing with crisis management in healthcare, it’s also important that you and your staff know how to properly address and handle the media. One of the first things you should consider is making your team available as early as possible. For instance, when a helicopter carrying patients or crew crashes anywhere during a mission, hospital spokespeople must make themselves available immediately at headquarters to try to handle the media onslaught. They should also be clear about how much information they know and how much they are able to give out. The media will push for more details, so it’s important that you or your peers aren’t just releasing information to satisfy reporters.

Give staff a phrase to use if media should approach them for comments. If all staff members use the same phrase, media will not pursue multiple staff members for comments. Phrases such as “Your questions can be answered by our media representative” will be easy for staff to remember and protect them from media barrage. By establishing a prepared crisis-communication team, acting quickly and confidently, hospitals can minimize damage from bad situations and keep their positive reputation within the community. Having a designated spokesperson will limit the possibility of your staff providing mixed messages to the media.

Seek Out Help

One of the biggest mistakes that facilities will make when it comes to crisis management in healthcare is that many practices will remain silent in hopes that the crisis will blow over. In times of crisis, hospitals need all the goodwill and support they can muster. They need their employees, doctors, patients, families, suppliers, and all the other constituent publics who believe in what they do and how they do it. The cornerstone of the practice of public relations is third party endorsement — getting someone else to talk about how good you are. Accordingly, in crisis, the more you share with key publics, the more third party support you can generate. Having allies to rally around you will ensure that the reputation as a healthcare facility remains stellar.

About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of CanadianNanny.ca. Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.