Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are hospitals on the hot seat now, replacing pharma and insurers?

Whoa there now. Hospitals starting to be cast as the villains in the healthcare debate, after flying under the public radar  for so long as the bastions of fairness, and taking care of the communities and all who come to their doors? 

Maybe so.

In a Becker’s Hospital Review article on March 25, 2105 by Molly Gamble,  Hospitals: The new villains in the story of American healthcare? (What Slate has to say), posed some interesting thoughts based on a Slate article.


Villains?

Predatory monopolies?

Crooks?

Bleeding us dry?

Just because its Slate doesn't means it’s not a growing public sentiment. Pharma has had its time in the penalty box.  So have the insurers. And in a society and culture that thrives on the sensational and taking pot shots at celebrates and companies, it’s not a surprise really. 

There is after all a growing public scrutiny of hospitals prices and profits by nationally respected publications like Time magazine. Then there is the ever growing list of preventable deaths in a hospital killing 160,000 people a year.

Name one place in the nation after a merger or hospital acquisition that decreased competition in a market, where the price and cost of healthcare actually went down, or duplicative clinical services and technology were eliminated?  I can’t either.

And with an election coming up in 2016, at the first sniff of a major public issue, the politicians will be falling over themselves to be cast as the reformer protecting “the little guy” from the big bad greedy hospitals.

It’s early in the game, but the signs of a growing and potentially lethal public relations nightmare are in the offing. And the AHA won’t be able to save the hospital in the local market or major urban areas from inquisitive reporters, consumers with a story to tell, big headlines or negative TV news coverage.

What to do? Dust off that PR campaign!

Sometimes it’s back to the future and some good old public relations work that should be in the marking.  Dust off those old PR and communications plans by investing and building relationships with reporters.  Become the price and outcomes transparent hospital. Do the market research to completely understand what the brand image and reputation of the hospital is in the market.  The time is now for the development and crisp tactical execution of a long term and sustainable public relations campaign.  

There are no guarantees that it will work, but if the hospital starts now and gets ahead of the potential PR nightmare, then the hospital may just have a chance.

Or, one can ignore the growing hospital as a villain noise, and then wonder why everyone is so angry.

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