We’re in PR because we thrive on identifying communications challenges and finding ways to solve them. Part of the fun of our work is navigating complex industries to deliver success – and few are as complex as healthcare.
Thankfully, healthcare PR isn’t quite as complicated as ensuring HIPAA compliance across hundreds of clinics and thousands of staff and providers. It does, however, come with its own unique challenges… which we’ve spent years diagnosing and treating. Just call us Dr. House.
Diagnosis 1: Everyone’s an expert… a very specialized expert.
That means you can wind up juggling dozens of spokespeople – cardiologists, hematologists, nutritionists, the list goes on – over the course of a year, all who have lent their voice to one news piece or another. It also means that for every new request, you must do outreach to new doctors, and they’re pretty busy people.
The Cure: Cut the spokesperson clutter.
Have you worked on a piece like this before? Who was your expert then? Were they a good voice? If yes, use them again! There’s no way to avoid the need for specialized voices in healthcare PR but having relationships with one or two media-trained experts in each specialty will help specialize your specialists. This also helps develop your spokespeople as thought leaders to your audiences and the press.
Diagnosis 2: Hospital and patient information is sensitive.
There are hundreds of laws that regulate what information hospitals can provide and when they can provide it.
The Cure: Understand the system and establish points of contact for these requests.
Nobody expects the communications team to be patient privacy experts – they already have designated people who are! Facilities likely have at least one person (maybe a risk manager, house supervisor, or charge nurse) who has access to patient information and a trained understanding of which pieces they can share. Knowing who to call in the event of a media request helps streamline the process and allows you to get back to your reporter ASAP – even if you can’t share anything.
Diagnosis 3: There are too many stories to tell them all.
When you’re in the business of saving lives, every story matters – and every patient has one. Amazing staff and providers do amazing things every day; you could pitch a unique story every day for years and never run out.
The Cure: Find stories that fit.
Every client has a goal for PR efforts that support their business. In healthcare, that might mean establishing themselves as a leader in the tech future of healthcare, underscoring their dedication to expanding access to care or demonstrating expertise in their service lines. Every time you hear of a story or news opportunity, think about how it fits within your goal. If it doesn’t, be prepared to say no and explain why not.
When communicating for complex healthcare organizations, it’s important to understand not just what to communicate – but how to navigate the communications.