Public Updates: How to Handle Healthcare Crises With Your Website

crisiscommunicationIt’s a five letter word that’s been in headlines for weeks: Ebola. The virus, which was identified in 1976 in Africa, has experienced ebbs and flows of outbreaks for nearly 40 years, but this year’s outbreak has been labeled by the Centers for Disease Control as the largest epidemic of the disease in history.

As the virus continues to make headlines, hospitals and healthcare clinics around the world continue to work tirelessly to prepare for any cases of Ebola patients who might make their way to their facilities.

With one fatality in the continental United States already on record due to improper screening and immediate treatment at a Texas hospital, hospitals across the nation are working to prepare the public and themselves as Ebola monitoring continues.

Your website is a great way to share your preparedness plans with the community at large, as well as providing employees with resources for their own awareness.

Not sure where to start?

Your employees and customer service representatives are great resources for what kinds of questions and concerns they’ve been fielding from patients and visitors about Ebola, which can help craft your message.

There are lots of online resources, too, from major organizations including the CDC, the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to talking to employees and your call center, here are a few other tips that will help you communicate effectively during a health crisis.

Update your employees first

Once you have a plan in place, update your employees first. Ensuring your staff understands the instructions and precautions will be vital for sharing consistent information with patients.

Your employees will also need to have proper training, and caring for their safety is an important step to ensure the safety of future patients.

Use your website as your megaphone

No doubt, members in your community are wondering if your hospital is ready to handle an Ebola case, should one arrive. Your website is your key marketing tool for that messaging.

Using sliders, press releases, or just updating a promotional space on your home page is a great place to start. The important thing is that you have your Ebola preparedness information in an easy-to-find place.

Keep it simple

Don’t get too detailed when you post a health crisis plan online. Avoid jargon, acronyms or other terms that the general public might not understand. From a patient’s perspective, their key concerns are:

  • Do you have a plan? If so, what is it? How does it benefit me?
  • How are you monitoring patients coming into the hospital?
  • What should I know about Ebola? What are the symptoms?
  • What travel advice should I heed?

Be the source material for your patients and visitors by answering the questions that you’re already getting in the door. Your concierge staff is likely encountering these concerns daily, so refer to them for the most commonly asked questions that you might be able to answer directly on the website.

Utilize online resources, too, and link to information that your patients and the community might find relevant or important to help them understand the illness.

Crisis averted: What did we learn?

Once the crisis is under control, circle back with your hospital leadership and staff and see what was learned from the process. What was the feedback from the community? How can we improve for a crisis in the future? What sure-fire improvements can we make today?

Getting through a health crisis is a major milestone, especially with something as world-captivating as Ebola. Use this opportunity to build a plan, establish confidence in your employees and community, and learn how you can better communicate with your patients to keep them healthy and educated.

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This entry was posted in Admin Feed, Best Practices, eHealth by Erin Schroeder. Bookmark the permalink.
Erin Schroeder

About Erin Schroeder

Erin’s an engaging writer. And she’s an experienced teacher. Add in the fact she’s a talented interviewer with a decade of reporting under her belt and she has the perfect skill set for a content strategist. Erin loves meeting people and learning about their organizations, which is why she excels at helping clients tell their stories online through intuitive, user-friendly site architecture and engaging copy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from St. Ambrose University, a master’s degree in professional journalism from the University of Iowa, and a certificate in content strategy from Northwestern University. When she's not building better user experiences, this Beatlemaniac spends her spare time listening to her vinyl collection, road tripping, writing for Iowa City's arts and culture magazine Little Village, or volunteering with Families Helping Families of Iowa.

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