Cyber disasters top concern for payer, provider PR pros

"Healthcare organizations can take decades to build a regional reputation but only minutes to destroy it," says Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research. “Yet we continue to see examples of how a poorly managed crisis can bring down a hospital and its revenue overnight.”

In Black Book's annual public relations survey, payer and provider executives this year said technology catastrophes were their top concern. That's a shift from previous years, when workforce issues, physician satisfaction and medical-legal problems were top of mind.

RELATED: 'VICTORY' key to robust health breach management

The survey included execs from 334 hospitals, 218 physician groups and ambulatory organizations and 107 health insurance companies.

Survey respondents also cited financial issues, patient dissatisfaction events, nursing staff issues, clinical and disease emergencies, hospital performance outcomes, and patient safety mishaps and social media impacts among their concerns.

"A hospital's reputation may be its most important attribute. … And, of course, reputation is subjective which can deteriorate quickly from a single negative event," Brown said. 

RELATED: Communication by feds, between providers necessary to improve state of patient privacy

As a result, spin control and crisis communications could be a hot new job opportunity in healthcare organizations in 2017.

Eighty-one percent of hospitals and integrated delivery networks, compared with just 16% in 2015, are increasing their budgets for external crisis management expertise by more than 10% next year. And 62% of payers said they’ll boost that line item by 20%.