What is a Hospital Crisis Communications Plan?

A hospital crisis communications plan is a document that is used by a hospital and serves as a way of managing the operations of a hospital during a crisis that can threaten their operations, the safety of the workers and the patients inside it, the people near the hospital environment, as well as their own reputation. This document also talks about the way in which information circulates in and out of the hospital during times of crisis for the purpose of taking care of the said situation.

Elements of an Effective Hospital Leadership During a Crisis

Whenever a crisis unfolds, the hospital executives must focus on adequate preparation, communication, and fast action. This is done to continuously ensure a high level of quality in terms of caring for patients, and to keep the hospital staff well-equipped. Here are some of the elements that demonstrate effective hospital leadership whenever crisis strikes:

Creating a Crisis Leadership Team. Developing a team to facilitate a hospital crisis response even before it occurs should be a top priority for effective leadership. A hospital crisis leadership team can compose of the following representatives from each department of the hospital: the executive management, the board of directors, the department leadership, the communication and marketing department, and the human resources. In a crisis, the leadership team should be ready to communicate with all the departments, analyze the problems, and suggest solutions to the unfolding situation.Developing a Disaster Plan. Leaders that plan for a hospital crisis should think about the worst-case scenario and devise appropriate strategies to address all aspects of it. While the leadership team should be able to agree on standard procedures for handling a crisis, they should also be able to adapt to any unforeseen situations that may arise as a consequence of the incident. The disaster plan that is being developed by the leadership team should be able to address considerations such as the goals of the plan, the contact information, the procedures for recovery, the plans for mobile setup, and steps for rebuilding.Sharing Information Broadly. In crisis leadership, transparency is considered essential and information concerning crisis response should be disseminated as broadly as possible. It is usually best to share the information via the face-to-face method at first, even if it’s done through a video call. However, one announcement should not be enough. Repetition of information spreading via means of different channels of communication ensures that employees, patients, and the general public have received and comprehended it.Taking Calm and Decisive Action. During a crisis, the leaders should be able to recognize how severe the issue is and take the appropriate actions that are required. Any time that is spent continuously denying the problem’s existence and its consequences only increase the risk of the situation worsening. When confronted with a crisis, hospital leaders should take notice of the issue and immediately get to work on resolving the problem. An example would be noticing frequent weather or climate changes and recognizing that a crisis may unfold because of it, instead of hoping that its effects will not hamper the operations of the hospital.Leading Employee and Patient Care. Exceptional patient care is a must during a hospital crisis. At the same time, the extraordinarily high demands that a crisis makes on medical services can leave hospitals operating with insufficient resources to offer proper emergency care. Effective crisis management in a hospital should ensure that a balance is met between patients receiving adequate assistance and giving the medical personnel proper equipment so that they can handle the stresses of the tasks that they face.Addressing a Crisis’ Long-Term Effects. Effective leadership is essential during a crisis, but it doesn’t stop once the situation has been dealt with. The needs usually don’t end there. For example, a number of people who’ve caught and survived the virus during the pandemic continue to suffer issues related to mental health until today. Secondary issues such as financial problems even after a crisis has happened can stay around for a long time. Aftermaths of a crisis can also linger around for a very long time even if the situation is over. For example, first responders during the 9/11 attacks face health challenges such as cancer and respiratory issues long after the attacks have happened.

Methods of Hospital Preparation for an Impending Disaster

Fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural and man-made disasters can happen at any moment and in any location. Whenever a hospital is caught in one of these incidents, it must not only be able to respond to the emergency but also be able to continuously maintain patient care even if they are placed under the most challenging situations possible. With that being said, here are some of the methods that can help a hospital be better prepared to communicate during times of crisis:

How to Prepare an Effective Hospital Crisis Communication Plan

A crisis is inevitable in just about any type of organization or business. In a hospital, a crisis can disrupt the normal day-to-day routines of the workers and can make an already intense environment much more complex. By developing an effective communication plan, the hospital enables them to respond accurately and confidently in the hours following a crisis. Here are the steps to be followed on how to prepare an effective crisis communication plan for a hospital.

1. Identify the people.

The main people that need to be identified first when developing a crisis communication plan are the ones who form the crisis communications team, the stakeholders, and the spokespersons. Ideally speaking, the CEO will lead the communications team, with the top public relations executive and legal counsel as chief advisers. Keep in mind that the senior executives should serve as the crisis communications team. When identifying the spokespersons, it is important that you do so in advance even if you will make the ultimate decision on who will speak once the crisis breaks. In identifying the stakeholders, you should create an internal and external database to guarantee that they receive the exact messages that you want them to hear and potentially be repeated to other people or the media.

2. Identify potential crises and a plan.

The crises communications team should identify every possible threat that is based on the known vulnerabilities of your hospital. It may become clear that some situations can be preventable by changing existing conditions or operational methods. Possible responses should be considered along with best and worst-case scenarios.

3. Identify systems.

The notification systems that need to be identified when creating a communications plan are the notification systems, monitoring systems, and the crisis verification system. Notification systems enable the team to rapidly reach the stakeholders. Monitoring what is being said about you on traditional or social media can alert you to negative messages that could create a crisis. When you also monitor stakeholder feedback during a crisis, you can have enough support to make logical changes to strategy and tactics. In identifying a crisis verification system, the main thing to do is to determine what has happened and immediately identify and document as many facts as possible.

4. Identify messaging via holding statements and key messaging.

Full messages must be developed during a crisis based on the facts gathered and that can take a long amount of time. Pre-determined statements such as “Expect a statement from our CEO within an hour” will give you breathing space and let the audience know that you are working on the matter. These statements must be reviewed regularly. The hospital crisis communications team should also be able to develop crisis-specific messages based on verified information. These can be modified based on the actual crisis and must be adapted to suit different forms of media.

5. Identify key learnings.

When the crisis has passed, the best thing to do would to conduct a formal analysis in the team meeting conducted by the entire hospital crisis communications team. In the meeting, the team should review the things that worked, the things that failed, and what can be improved before another crisis happens. The results should also be used to update the crisis communications plan accordingly.


What are the roles of a crisis management team in a hospital?

A hospital crisis management team should be able to perform a number of duties such as managing the crisis response, performing the tactical operations that are outlined in the emergency plan, overseeing employee assistance, and ensuring that the hospital meets its financial responsibilities. The crisis management team should have a leader that can oversee the group’s work. Executive support for the decisions of the team should also be provided.

What is a crisis?

A crisis is defined as an incident that occurs suddenly in a specific area. It demands a quick and appropriate response and, if managed incorrectly, can result in negative consequences to the organization or business. Natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes, can cause crises. They can also result from man-made incidents such as fires, job accidents, security incidents, or terror attacks.

What is the required expertise to be in a crisis management team?

A crisis management team should be able to include members who can perform well under pressure, have good analytical skills, and must also be strong communicators. The group should also have members who have expertise in areas such as human resources, information technology, operations, security, communication, finance, and legal requirements. People with expertise in areas that have issues unique to the crisis must also be in the crisis management team.

At the end of the day, proper crisis communication in a hospital is down to satisfying the needs of employees, patients, and their caregivers. When an emergency occurs inside a hospital, the priority should be supporting and connecting the people who are doing the most important work. In effective crisis management, internal and external stakeholders are helped and short-term and long-term impacts of the crisis are planned. Good communication and teamwork should also be used. After all, communication is key in order to get something done in an efficient manner. Examples of a hospital crisis communication plan are posted in this article if you need to make one or if you need a reference to verify the document you’ve made.