Hospital Crisis Communication in the Age of Social Media

How many hospitals have a crisis communication plan they’re truly comfortable with (and if you do, how often do you update it?)? Truth is, most of those plans are reactive. If only we’d known what to expect before it actually hit us. That’s the goal, of course: to diffuse a problem before it becomes a full-blown crisis. Doing that requires proactive crisis planning, if not a crystal ball. And, that’s where social media can have an impact.


A few things to consider:

  • The doors fly wide open with social media.
  • Our customers—which include not only patients, but their families; affiliated and employed physicians; nurses; support and administrative staff; and others—are the influencers.
  • Those customers now have more tools than ever to share what they like or dislike about their experience.
  • It only takes a single voice to ignite a spark.
  • Nervous? We should be. Ultimately, that’s our brand they’re talking about.  

But, also consider the very things that we think may work against us—tools like Twitter and Facebook—can do double-duty work for us when embraced and consistently managed.


Here’s why:

  • It’s like having an ear to the ground on the good, the bad and the ugly. 
  • We’re able to quickly identify problems and opportunities.
  • We’ve also got the ability to swiftly engage with customers to address problems—before they become crises.
  • We can learn and disseminate the lessons from each of those engagements. 

Ultimately, it’s about listening, getting personal and humanizing our hospital brand. Once we realize this, anything with the potential to create a crisis becomes an opportunity to enhance a relationship.


What about you? How is social media changing your hospital’s crisis communication strategy?


2 comments so far

  1. Nick Dawson on

    nice post! I like your summation – ultimately it *is* about humanizing the brand. Great work Daphne!

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