Create a two-way street between providers and local communities to improve patient awareness and engagement.
That's the advice of Andrew Chastain, managing partner and chair of the healthcare practice at Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm in Illinois, in an article from Hospitals & Health Networks. He suggests the following best practices to improve community outreach:
Rethink your hospital's mission. Look beyond providing quality care and include community engagement and involvement. Mission statements should be short, according to the article, but must be all-encompassing as well.
Actively communicate to staff that community engagement is important. Educate employees on the unique aspects of the community you serve and strive to connect to all of the demographics and different groups that live there.
Conduct a grassroots campaign. Invite community members into your enterprise for forums and bring voices that are often left out of planning meetings into the fold.
Make outreach a part of executive contracts. Boards must review executive job contracts and verbalize the expectation that members of the C-suite are involved with patient engagement. Specifically outline the expected role each exec should play in better reaching out to the communities they serve.
For all stakeholders looking for a starting point to improve community outreach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the Community Health Improvement Navigtor, available online.
Investing time and effort into a community health needs assessment can help hospitals and health systems better address the needs of their patients, according to a second HHN piece, Hospital-wide involvement is necessary but it's also important to ensure patients and community members are involved throughout the process, according to the article. The process is most effective when as many stakeholders as possible participate and the C-suite and board members believe in the initiative.