5 ways to help communicate hospital changes

With change, confusion and mixed messages about the Affordable Care Act bombarding consumers, it's important that hospital executives carefully communicate how their organizations will take on the challenges and uncertainty of healthcare reform.

To help hospital leaders communicate their organizations' brands and images moving forward, here are five tips that Ross K. Goldberg, president of Kevin Ross Public Relations offered in Becker's Hospital Review:

  1. Talk to your staff first. Don't let your employees, medical staff, volunteers and board members find out about hospital news on the Internet or daily newspapers. Communicating the message to your employees first will help you build credibility and trust, Goldberg said. In return, employees are more likely to support the changes and help the organization deliver a positive patient experience that will help it stand out in the market. 
  2. Help people undertand why you are making the changes. Explain in simple terms why the hospital is making the change, he suggested. Once you make a compelling case and people seem to understand and accept the change, talk about the specifics: the who, what, when and how
  3. Frame the changes in a larger context. Explain how the changes fit in to the larger picture of what is happening in the healthcare industry. 
  4. Restate your message again and again. Repitition is key, Goldberg said. Provide frequent updates and developments to all stakeholders. Give people a chance to ask questions and answer them. A two-way conversation is one of the best ways to help the public, employees, staff and volunteers feel invested in and supportive of the change.
  5. Don't deviate from your brand. A brand is more than a slogan, according to Goldberg. It is a promise that the organization makes to its customers, business partners and employees. Make sure your messages about the changes ahead build upon the hospital's brand.

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