As the focus of the healthcare community in this country turns to Ebola containment, the question is how can hospital marketers handle the press regarding this potential epidemic?
As the focus of the healthcare community in this country turns to Ebola containment, the question is how can hospital marketers handle the press regarding this potential epidemic? How well hospitals deal with the problem will partially influence how much the public panics regarding risk of Ebola.
The Media and Ebola
Some major media outlets are reporting that Ebola response will challenge many U.S. hospitals. New York Times columnist Steven Brill discussed the affect Ebola has had on the reputation of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The hospital hired a public-relations firm to help rebuild their marketing strategy and deflect some of the negative attention, according to Reuters.
In a press release, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that hospitals need to put Ebola in the spotlight and learn new ways to address infection control. Marketing strategies will be part of keeping the community informed on Ebola precautions taken by the hospital.
Managing Hospital Marketing in the Face of the Ebola Scare
Emergency rooms are preparing for Ebola panic as the flu season approaches. Marketing experts are doing their own prep to help avoid a publicity crisis in the face of Ebola, as well. The key may be in transparency, according to a number of Houston communication firms.
It is critical that marketers avoid skirting around the issue. Instead, hospitals should meet the crisis head-on and use it to build trust with the community. Hospital marketing campaigns should make the Ebola response headline news to reassure the patients that everything is being done according to guidelines.
- Offer regular updates on the Ebola situation both internationally and locally.
- Work with the public health authorities to provide communication regarding the crisis, especially if the hospital has an Ebola patient.
- Educate local residents on Ebola prevention and the infection control of other conditions, as well, such as influenza.
- Be open about precautions the hospital is taking to prevent Ebola and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Medical personnel should undergo training on how to answer questions about the spread of Ebola, too. Keeping the wrong information from getting to the public is a priority for the hospital staff.
Managing the Ebola Scare
The best way for hospitals to prevent bad publicity is to take precautions and avoid contamination. The National Nurse’s United union charged the Dallas hospital with putting the front health care workers at risk. The union claims the hospital failed to take steps that might have prevented the spread of the virus. That type of negative publicity affects the community as a whole and will work to incite panic.
Hospitals can use marketing to reassure patients that their doctors and staff have the training needed to deal with Ebola should it cross into the community. This will not only help educate the public about the disease, but also open up a line of communication that will build trust for the healthcare network.