Healthcare Reform and Strategic Communications

Last week Texas Health Resources set a good example of how to use strategic communications as a means to differentiate itself within the environment of healthcare reform. Texas Health Resources is a not-for-profit health system comprised of 26 hospitals, 58 outpatient facilities, and 560 MDs in a physicians group.

In an April 30 press release titled “Texas Health Advances Transparency and Accountability with Public Quality and Safety Report,” the health system released a series of reports comparing their numbers with cumulative data aggregated across other hospitals in Texas and the U.S. The CEO of Texas Health Resources, Doug Hawthorne, stated, “We are stepping out ahead of every other health system in North Texas and ahead of most other systems across the nation.”

Proactive communications are going to play an increasingly vital role over the coming years as data about the quality of care becomes more visible to healthcare consumers. For example, at the CMS “Hospital Compare” website (link below), consumers can compare their local hospitals’ performance in areas such as:

● Consumer experiences at the hospitals
● Timeliness of care in areas such as heart attack, surgeries and preventive care
● Unplanned readmissions and death rates
● Use of medical imaging
● Medicare spending per beneficiary

Hospitals and health systems that proactively position their performance data will gain competitive advantages in the markets they serve, and the key to success in that effort is strategic communications. CEOs and other executives will need to develop and implement a communications plan to position their data in the most favorable light. The “silver lining” here is that no single hospital or health system will be dominant across a majority of data points, which presents opportunities to competitively position and promote your hospital’s greatest areas of performance.

To view how Texas Health positioned its data and to review the current data points available at “Hospital Compare,” see the web resources below.

Texas Health Resources Quality Reports:
http://www.texashealth.org/Quality-Reports

CMS “Hospital Compare” Website:
http://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
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