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Why Digital Should Play an Important Role in Your Healthcare Organization’s Emergency Plan

As keystone community organizations in times of emergency, healthcare providers play an essential role in community emergency planning and they often have robust emergency plans of their own. Many of these emergency plans anticipate and build processes for operational or logistical challenges that can arise in times of crisis.

Leaders may have considered how many beds the hospital would need to muster in the case of a mass shooting, or how best to evacuate patients from lower floors in the case of flooding. They may have spent time determining the parameters of your insurance policies, or outlining which restoration vendors could help in the case of mass destruction.

Marketing and communication is often an afterthought, even though it’s essential. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that communication becomes crucial in times of crisis.

Whether your organization is planning to incorporate communications into its overarching emergency response plan or you’re revising your plan based on the issues uncovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to offer some tips about what to consider.

1. Ensure That Your Organization is Considering Communications in Emergency Planning

If the marketing team has never been invited to an emergency planning session, ask your supervisor if there’s a way your contributions can be considered. In an ideal scenario, a hospital’s marketing director would be involved in any strategic planning surrounding emergencies. If that hasn’t been the case, it’s a good idea to map out your thoughts, using an existing and familiar scenario as an example.

Ultimately, your goal should be to have a plan in place for your team, and to ensure that other leaders involved in carrying out an emergency plan would understand the need to keep the marketing department up to speed. After all, if you have a plan for your team, but you aren’t informed about what’s happening during a crisis, you still won’t be able to deliver on your strategy.

2. Digital Should Be a Keystone for Emergency Communications

During an emergency of any type, chaos typically ensues. Clear and confident communication is imperative during this time, because those within your community need to know how to access care. We all know that people turn to the Internet for health information — this is true all the time. In fact, Google receives more than 1 billion health questions every single day. But it turns out that people rely on the web for answers even more during a health crisis.

Online searches related to potential COVID-19 symptoms have been so common that the Mayo Clinic may work with Google to help predict future outbreaks, and researchers are already using online data related to symptom searches in current studies.

Particularly during a crisis, people need help making sense of information and determining what’s credible amidst a flood of misinformation online. Healthcare organizations are typically viewed as experts within communities, so make sure your plan helps you own your role as an expert by providing your community with valid, helpful resources and information.

3. Make an Emergency Communications Checklist

As you work to create or revamp your organization’s emergency plan, it’s important to think through potential scenarios ahead of time and carefully outline them. You’ll want to determine not only where to disseminate information, but also who is responsible for what. That way, when a crisis occurs, every person knows what’s next.

During an emergency, there are seemingly endless, quickly moving parts; that leaves little time to think through the message you need to share and where you need to share it. To help you get started with the brass tacks list of to-dos, we’ve created a checklist you can download and reference as you plan, as well as in the heat of an emergency situation. (Just use the form on this page to get the download link!)

Need help thinking through the particulars of a digital communications strategy? We’re here to help, and contacting us is easy.

Download Your Digital Communications Emergency Checklist

Use the form below to download our printable pdf checklist.

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