Marketing Your Hospital: Regaining Trust after Negative Publicity

Hospital Band Aid

When a hospital is cited for negligence, as one teaching institution recently was for repeated wrong side surgeries, what can be done to regain the community’s trust?

Even problems like long waits in the ER, lack of cleanliness in patient rooms or overcrowded conditions in the Labor and Delivery area, can cause a hospital to lose consumer confidence.

It is a tough, uphill battle for any business after they lose consumers’ trust. And for a hospital this is even more treacherous.  Just one family member or close friend having a bad experience or receiving inadequate care can do a lifetime of damage for a hospital in the minds of all those connected to that one patient.

There is no quick fix as rebuilding a hospital’s reputation “takes time, effort and a lot of grunt work” according to Stuart Foster, a marketing consultant in the Boston area. His steps to regaining the trust are:

  • Admit you are fallible
  • Ask for feedback. How you take this advice and act on it is critical
  • Don’t reinvent yourself. Focus on what is wrong and fix that
  • Troubleshoot: What allowed this to happen and how can it be prevented
  • Be consistent:  Hold tight with what you know you can do

In addition, respond in the same medium in which the complaint was initially made public. Negative tweets about your hospital? Unfavorable posts on Facebook? Respond in the same medium to the same audience. Apologize for the experience, offer to assist, give contact info and get the conversation off line. This shows all who were made privy to the publicity that your hospital does care and wants to make the situation better. Thus you get back on the road to your hospital’s own recovery.

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