By definition, health care organizations bear a crucial responsibility in championing the health and well-being of the people they serve. But an organization’s impact isn’t limited to the exam room or hospital floor—it extends into the communities where patients live, work and raise their families.
Nearly 80% of the factors that influence a person’s health are rooted in nonmedical issues such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs. These social determinants of health have a highly significant impact on a person’s well-being, and it’s incumbent upon hospitals, health systems and other organizations to play an active role in improving these determinants, raising awareness about the issues affecting local populations and working toward finding solutions.
Empowering Communities—and Elevating Your Organization
No good deed should go unpublicized when it comes to highlighting your organization’s efforts and impact in the community. Not only do those efforts provide opportunity for great press (which never hurts), but also, they shine a light on specific community needs and can help garner additional support for meaningful causes.
Emphasizing your organization’s good works has a number of benefits, including:
- Building trust and credibility with varied stakeholders
- Improving your reputation – in real life and online
- Creating authenticity and relatability
- Encouraging other organizations to get involved
- Enhancing community relationships and business partnerships
- Attracting patients, customers and staff
Chances are, your organization is already doing its fair share to benefit your community. Translating these good works into compelling messages, as Lovell’s Elevations program does in helping engage and educate key stakeholders, can help you achieve the outcomes above. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Start with your community health needs assessment (CHNA): For nonprofit hospitals and health systems, identifying community health needs isn’t simply advisable—it’s a federal requirement. CHNA reports are required every three years and provide a great starting point for your organization’s clinical outreach, education and sponsorship activities. Even if your organization is not mandated to conduct a CHNA, you can obtain information from other providers’ assessments (which are required to be publicly available) to learn about the specific health needs of your community and explore ways to help address them.
- Make an impact, and make it visible: Whether it’s participating in a local health fair, hosting a community cookout or holding a flu shot clinic, public events are a great way to show and tell your commitment to the community. Promote your events with the local media and partner with other well-known organizations – like the Girl Scouts, Gilda’s Club or the Ronald MacDonald House – to maximize news and social media impact. Encourage executive or clinical leaders to attend and make comments and prepare media talking points to help them stay on message and make the most of the opportunity.
- Leverage multiple communication channels: When publicizing your good works, don’t just host an event—record it, photograph it, write about it, post it on social media. A short “explainer video” can be inexpensive to produce and easy to share. Include information about your community benefit in marketing materials such as newsletters, blog posts, letters to donors and annual reports. And weave it into recruitment and onboarding materials: most people get into health care because they want to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.
- Repurpose, rinse and repeat: Continue spreading the word about your community work, grant program or event even after the news crews have packed up their cameras. Provide progress updates as your community work unfolds, or interview a patient or customer who has benefited from your community involvement and let them tell their personal success stories. If you’re working in concert with a community partner such as your local chamber of commerce or Rotary club, leverage their resources (company websites, social channels, internal networks, speaking opportunities, etc.) to share the news far and wide.
The reputations of health care providers are inherently – and appropriately – centered around clinical aspects such as patient care, medical treatment, advancements in technology and scientific innovations. But it’s equally important to share the impact your organization makes more broadly on the community, from supporting community health a to addressing fundamental needs such as food, transportation, housing and education. Proactively engaging in conversations about how your organization invests in and improves the community can play a significant role in building goodwill and support. Lovell is here to help. If you would like further ideas or help with a full campaign, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.