The idea of public relation is to inform public about the positive things the firm is involved in. This helps improve the company’s overall brand value and public image. Consumers depend on brand reputation to decide hospitals at which they receive treatments
Public relations are a major part of communications in a business organisation, irrespective of profit and area of business. Healthcare organisations are no exceptions. In fact, hospitals, clinics and medical practitioners are amongst the largest consumers of public relations services.
All kinds of healthcare service providers require both internal and external communications and must possess the skills to communicate clearly with vendors, partners of business as well as their patients. Some of their responsibilities are to write internal publications such as newsletters, handle calls from media, create and write different materials that are used for promotion of their services.
Public relation experts formulate marketing plans that focus on the various features of the organisation. They also are responsible for handling events between the organisation and the public, and address the press via press releases.
The healthcare public relations is on the move, gaining importance not only in the creative and communication services sector, but in the international market as well.
Public relations is a summation of professional relationships developed by the staff of any company. The behaviour and attitude of every hospital staff member collectively moulds the image and reputation of the hospital. Word of mouth advertising by satisfied patients is the best form of advertisement for any hospital.
Public relations can be used to improve the image of a hospital. This will impact the users, their peer groups and also the hospital’s employees. The hospital’s image is a combination of:
- User and public impressions.
- Attitudes of the people working for the hospital.
- Hospital administration policies.
Hospitals can choose their specialty as some hospitals are chosen for particular diagnostic and curative procedures whereas some other hospitals are well-known for emergency trauma care. To humanise hospitals, the following three influencing aspects must be considered:
- The physical infrastructure.
- The services provided.
- User perceptions about the hospital and its services.
Hospitals must focus on providing excellent services to its patients and the community at large. Hospital administration must set patient-friendly guidelines for staff to ensure that patients are not treated with care and not just as a routine source of income. By doing so the hospital can serve the purpose for which it is created which is to meet the needs of those it serves. To achieve this goal with immediate effect, all hospital employees have to make a conscious effort to build and protect the reputation and image of the hospital. This is the individual effort of all hospital employees towards positive public relations.
Consumers are very aware of their rights due to which they expect high standards of service at hospitals. Customers cannot easily understand or evaluate the quality of healthcare treatments and services. But they rely on aspects of service such as hospital food,, hygiene, housekeeping services and the behaviour of staff to judge the quality of care at hospitals. The hospital exists for the public. Therefore, public relations campaigns must involve every single individual working for the hospital, as every action of hospital personnel is an act towards public relations. Public relations is not the responsibility of the sales and marketing teams, it is a collective responsibility of all hospital employees, to build the right kind of image for the hospital.
Healthcare professionals need to improve their interpersonal skills as they constantly have to interact with patients and their caretakers. Hospital staffs also interrupt the patient’s privacy as they enter the rooms of patients without knocking or announcing themselves. Medical teams often carry out medical procedures without introductions or explanations. Hospital must change their practices to be known as patient-friendly healthcare organisations.
Inclusion of these measures can give hospitals the edge because of the good publicity as a result of the hospital’s word-of-mouth reputation. Publicity is not the only part of public relations but it still is an essential part of it. Understanding consumer needs, expectations and providing quality healthcare services is crucial to the public reputation of hospitals.