Regional Health Systems
Keeping the Community Alive.
As a community’s trusted custodian of care and vital economic engine –regional health systems shoulder critical loads.
They’re charged with operating a financially stable organization where people choose to come for care. Where physicians choose to practice. Where employees choose to work.
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
We understand these distinct needs. Each day, we put our decades of experience working with or serving as executives in regional systems to work for our clients.
World class care, close to home. It’s not just what the doctor ordered, it’s what the community demands.
For every project, we custom-build a team of experts fluent in the challenges and opportunities specific to local healthcare leaders.
We work with clients to:
Navigate difficult issues that threaten to derail your progress
Implement real-world solutions that fit your budget and demonstrate measurable results
Recruit the support of your C-Suite, board and other essential teams for your efforts
Our specialized Regional Health System Practice helps leaders position their organizations to grow, enhance and protect reputations and fulfill their missions.
A leadership blog written for senior-level healthcare executives, High Stakes offers insights and counsel on the communications challenges of today’s transformative hospital environment.
Regional Health System Case Studies
A venerable not-for-profit health system learned a member of its leadership team had inadvertently caused a massive-scale patient data breach. The system needed to alert patients about the problem while working with federal investigators and minimizing media attention. Leadership quickly assembled legal and crisis-response resources and called on us to coordinate the work with a shared strategic communications plan.
We immediately formed a campaign team of system leaders, counsel and communications professionals to manage the crisis as the single source of information. We disseminated information through channels including a dedicated website and call center.
Together, we developed consistent, empathetic messaging to curb misinformation and establish authority on the issue. We then implemented a strategic plan targeting staff, patients and the media.
- For staff, we distributed talking points and instructions to direct queries to a dedicated call center. We worked with the call center vendor to develop the responses and to convey rapid action.
- For patients, we drafted letters from the hospital apologizing for the data breach, explaining how it happened, outlining steps being taken and offering free credit monitoring.
- For media, we developed and proactively shared a press release to control the story. Once the story broke, we monitored and managed responses to traditional and social media.
Patients had clear information about how to protect themselves after the breach. The health system, meanwhile, suffered minimal media coverage from the data breach. By being transparent and sincerely apologizing, health system leaders maintained staff and community trust. By shaping the story early, media reported the incident in a fair way that inflicted no lasting damage.
Leaders of a regional health system were centralizing operations when they realized employee engagement was low. They decided to address the problem by searching for gaps in their internal communications efforts. Quickly recognizing they needed more resources to do the research, they brought us on board to conduct a thorough audit.
We began by polling employees and interviewing managers about their communications styles, knowledge and use of tools.
Results from those efforts were clear: Employees were receiving information that wasn’t relevant to their work, didn’t connect with the system’s mission and came from a variety of sources. Managers, meanwhile, varied markedly in their comfort and ability to communicate.
To address this, we built a plan to flip the organization’s top-down communications strategy into a two-way relationship between employer and employees. Elements included:
- A new protocol that drastically reduced “All-Staff” emails, ensured that content was relevant to specific employee populations and was properly curated with the most vital information at the top
- Creation of a new intranet portal to serve as a single, easily accessible, updated source of truth
- Development of a training program for managers to help them communicate clearly to their teams
Measured by surveys, the strategy yielded dramatic results. One year later, 77 percent of employees responded they received the appropriate amount of information from the system, versus 54 percent the previous year. Another 58 percent said they received information pertinent to their day-to-day work, versus 45 percent the previous year. Finally, half of the respondents said they felt engaged, up from one-third of employees before we began our work.
Leaders of a financially-fit, three-hospital system in rural Pennsylvania sought a partner to deliver on population health and invest in the troubled local economy. While confident in the out-of-state, investor-owned partner, they knew physician, political, regulatory and union challenges could stymie the deal. They were, after all, the region’s economic engine. They needed a smart internal and external communications campaign to ensure a successful transaction.
We immediately assembled a campaign team of leaders, board members and deal counsel to define goals and roles. Objectives were: Rally the troops around the system’s vision for the future, neutralize opposition, complete the transaction and launch the new foundation.
First step in the campaign was to broadly share the Board’s vision and why partnership was the right path. We took a unique approach to neutralize each possible group of detractors. Two months later, we announced the selected partner, and then focused on clearing regulatory hurdles and getting stakeholders comfortable with the partner.
Throughout the process, the merging systems presented a united front with leadership from both organizations attended at most engagements. This joint approach provided consistent messaging for employees, physicians, the media and the local community as they scrutinized the new partnership.
We also developed a “pressure valve” of constructive ways for audiences to express concerns and ask questions.
On the partnership announcement day, the communications cascade generated relief, excitement and celebration by internal and external audiences. Leadership dubbed the partnership as an investment of “big-town medicine in small-town America.” which lead to similar headlines.
Media coverage was balanced and fair. Unions never challenged. The team neatly navigated regulatory requirements to convert from a non-profit, closing within six months of the LOI announcement. The transaction’s $100 million foundation was viewed a stunning benefit for the region.