Public relations (PR) is the way organizations, companiesand individuals communicate with the public and media this communication may beaddress target audience directly or indirectly through media with an aim tocreate and maintain a positive image and create a strong relationship with theaudience. This communication may include direct interviews, newsletters, publicappearances, internet such as Facebook and twitter, and etc. Effectiveness of public relations:-To be effective public relations must depend on thegovernment board’s appreciation of the special public relations needs of thehospital as well as on the support of all departments. By and large this lattersupport is readily forthcoming because public relations cuts acrossorganizational lines and in interest of the hospital managers are more willingto do for the public relations what they normally would not do for otherdepartment .In recent time there has been pronounced trend toward theCEO’s of hospital assuming an expended public relations role and performingsome activity related to public relations which they feel are too important tobe left in the hands of their subordinate’s .consequently CEO’s are seenspending more time on public relations function.
These activities include publicspeaking, dealing directory with media, lobbying in favor of or against issuesthat affect health care and hospital dealing with consumer protection forums’,promoting industrial, or occupational medicine by meeting corporate bosses andcultivating community and top opinion leaders. The public relations directorarranges this meeting and prepares promotional materials for the CEO’s useThe basic componentsof public relations in hospital :-There thirteen elements affect in public relations inhospital have been listed as follows Counseling, Research, Media Relations, Publicity,Employee/Member Relations, Community Relations, Public Affairs, GovernmentAffairs, Issues Management, Financial Relations, Industry Relations, Development/Fund-Raisingand Special Events. Counseling, involves providing advice to management about policies,relationships and interactions. Research mean shaping attitudes and behaviorsof the public in order to plan public strategies. Working with mass media inseeking publicity or responding to their interests in the hospital call media relations.Publicity is disseminating planned messages through selected media to sponsorthe hospital. Employee/Member Relations describe as Responding to concerns,informing, and motivating the hospital employees or members. CommunityRelations is designed activity with a community to maintain an environment thatbenefits both the hospital and the community.
Component public affairs can describeas developing effective involvement in public policy and helping a hospitaladapt to public expectations. The term is also used by government agencies todescribe their public relations activities and by many corporations as anumbrella term to describe multiple public relations activities. GovernmentAffairs is relating directly with legislatures and regulatory agencies onbehalf of the hospital.
Lobbying can be a part of the government affairsprogram. Identifying and addressing issues of public concern that affect thehospital can simply call as issues management. Financial Relations is the creatingand maintain investor confidence and building good relationships with thefinancial community Also known as Investor Relations or Shareholder Relations. IndustryRelations is the relating with other hospitals in the industry of an organization.Development or Fund-Raising can describe as demonstrating the need fordevelopment and encouraging the public to support the hospital, primarilythrough financial contributions. Special Events is inspiring an interest in aperson, product or organization by means of a focused “happening”also activities designed to interact with publics and listen to them.Importance of public relation in promotion of hospital:-Public relations department in a hospital:-Public relation is relatively new service in hospital.
Nevertheless, it’srapid growth in recent years and the fact that many hospitals now have publicrelations programs and public officer indicate that it has earned an importantand permanent place in the hospital set -up.The importance of and the need for public relations can be appreciated whenone considers some of the problem today’s hospital have to contend with -highcost of medical care and the growing public criticism of hospital, problem ofdelivering quality care at affordable cost, need for efficient and professionalmanagement of hospital and increasing involvement of government agencies andconsumer protection forums in patient care and internal management of hospital.Different section of public- community, employees, medical staff, patient,visitors, etc. forms their opinion about the hospital according to the sourceof information .These opinions can be influences by a good public relationsprogrammed.A good public relation program is essential both inside and outside thehospital .
Inside the hospital to maintain dedicated staff who will provide warmand personal service to patient and outside to communicate the activity of thehospital to the people and to interpret people’s perception of the hospital andits policies to the hospital ‘s managementHealthcare changing at rapid pace with the role of public relations inhospital is changing too. There has been an explosion in technology that hasrevolutionized the practice of the public relations in terms of its acceptanceand sophistication. Many public relations directors who remain insulated intheir self contained hospitals performing the traditional public relationsactivity such as publication of house journals and functioning as hospitalsmedia agent have suddenly found themselves equipped and unprepared to face thechallenge of new concepts of marketing positioning and advertising that havebeen introduce to public relations.Responsibility of public relations departmentThe major responsibility of the public relations department are interpreting,advertising ,marketing and communicating .To carry these responsibilityeffectively ,the public relation director should be fully informed ofeverything that goes in the hospital .In other word he should be amender of topmanagement team and should attend meeting of the government board for this itis obvious that the director is a person of the highest personal integrity,stature ,judgment and personal discretionPublic opinions about a hospital are formed first and foremost on thepersonal experience of patients and their families ,then on the opinions of thestaff and their families ,persons who have first -hand knowledge andinformation about the hospital, visitors, suppliers and only then on informationderived from other source .
this primacy of individual as a source of opinionshas a profound influence on the hospital ‘s public relations .It underscoresthe importance of a sound internal relations program as the bases for allexternal public relationsAdvertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managersoften serve as liaisons between the firm requiring the advertising and anadvertising or promotion agency that develops and places the ads.The employees are first line of public relations .it is the responsibilityof the management that all the hospital and by their actions and word , theycan make or break the hospital .It is important to understand ,therefore ,thatgood public relations hospital public relations hospital begins with theemployee and that it is product of positive employee relations .progressivepersonnel policies which lay emphasis and an supervision and an enlightenedresult in high morale ,productivity ,internal harmony and motivated ,loyal andcontented employees who take pride their organization.From another angle it is necessary to ensure that all employees know theirhospital .a well informed employee is the best public representative of thehospital .
Providing a good orientation program and keeping the employeescontinuously informed of all aspect of the hospital are the combinedresponsibility of the human resource and public relations program.FunctionsTo interpret to the management the different view point and attitudes ofvarious strata of the public which it has identified, and recommend action toeffectively solve the problems arising from attitudinal changes on issuerelating to the hospital.To study the action and activity of the management and the impact they mayhave on the public perception of the hospital, apprise the management of anyharmful effect and recommend suitable action to avoid itTo gather and analysis date on an ongoing basis to improve communications tobetween the hospital and the publicTo assist the the institution to secure support and guidance from the publicIn the development of the hospital and ,to that end .help in conducting marketsurveys To develop communication materials such as internal and externalnewsletters ,publications audio-visuals ,media releases consisting of materialon hospital services ,health topic and human inters stories to promote thehospital goal’s and objective ,and direct them to reach specific targetaudiencesTo establish channel of communication between the hospital’s public and themanagement teamTo help in rising funds for the support of the hospitalTo develop and maintain good relations with the media and communicate withthe press at authorized by the hospital’s CEO, always keeping in mind the soundprincipal that public relations practitioners should be open and honest withpressTo organized hospital’s speaker bureau consisting of the CEO. Senior membersof the staff including medical staff ,and governing board member to speak tocivic groups , clubs and organizations in an effort to promote the hospital’sandTo participate in community affairs that have bearing on the well being ofthe hospital be a member of service organizations such as rotary ,lions orother group and other group and become respected community leadersMajor services of public relations in hospital:-Getting informed on what is being published in the dailynews and following up what it issued about the hospital news.
The departmentphotocopies and saves this information in special files then is proposed to thehospital manager. Each specialist is responsible for one newspaper where hefollows up the news and then displays and saves it.Daily passage on the hospital patients in all floors.
It isresponsible for following and resolving all the patients’ problems being facedduring their stay in the hospital. They are also responsible for inquiringabout the VIPs and welcoming them in the hospital.Reservation for conferences, symposium, debate for thesisstatements (masters, PHD) by filling the form that applies to each of them andwriting the kind of debate or the conference, accompanied with the hospitalmanager signature and issuing the purchase order under item of the scientificactivity account.
Methods of Improving Public Relations in HospitalsHigh quality of patient care will ensure simultaneously goodpublic relations. Obviously, a patient will never accept public relationsprogrammed in lieu of indifferent hospital care. Thus, good patient care is asine qua non. No amount of smiles, cheers and propaganda will compensate forbad administration and poor professional care in a hospital.A patient comes with certain definite expectations to thehospital.
The reception is normally the first contact point but often he mayhave made earlier contact with the hospital by getting into correspondence orby contacting over the telephone. All courtesies must be extended to him onthese occasions to project a good image of the hospital.A lot of valuable information can be and should be furnishedto patients even prior to their admission. Certain details with regard to timeand date and the person to whom he should contact with exact place will help inachieving favorable opinion about the hospital.
Equally important is the factthat the person who is to receive the patient should be available on right timeor else this will lead to just opposite effect, and the patient may go backhome disgruntled.Most of the hospitals have their own telephone exchanges.The experience of a telephone call may be the first impression of understandableimportance. Telephone operators should answer calls promptly and politely andpromptly respond to the queries of the caller.
This would avoid waste of timeand frustration.Environmental sanitation, cleanliness and physical comfortsprovided to patients create good impression. Well kept lawns, cleansurroundings are reflection of good administration which helps in buildinginitial confidence.Reception, Enquiry and Admission Office should beestablished as one single unit.
The staff posted there should be speciallyselected and trained in human relations. They should be courteous, cheerful andabove all efficient in their work. Persons working here should have fullknowledge of the routine procedures of the hospital so that information to thepatients or their relatives is furnished without any delay.The Outpatient Department is the most sensitive place fromthe public relations point of view.
Largest number of people visits thisdepartment. According to the estimation for each bed in a hospital there are500 visitors to a hospital in a year. This would explain the gravity of thesituation.
More frictions and misunderstandings arise in this department thananywhere else. Separate parking space for the staff and the public, adequatewaiting space and seating arrangements and facilities of wheel chairs andtrolleys should be made available. Public toilets, drinking water, cafeteria,and public telephones are essential in this department. Waiting time of thepatients should be rendered to minimum. Maximum number of doctors should beavailable during the peak hours. Help of paramedical and non-medical staff is amust.
Voluntary agencies may be required to help the patients in finding outvarious areas of the hospital. This department should be organized in such amanner that there is free flow of traffic and cross traffic is avoided orminimized. In addition to the help from staff and volunteers, suitable guidanceaids like supply of information brochure in local community centers and othersign postings will definitely help in creating a good impression. A responsiblemember of the staff should be available to explain the reasons of delay orlisten to public grievances.Measures should be. taken to avoid queue jumping andinfluence of ‘pull’. To avoid public resentment separate counters should beopened for the hospital, employees.
The Accident and Emergency Department or ‘Casualty’ isanother very sensitive area. People coming here are charged with emotions,anxiety and sense of’ urgency. This department should be staffed and equippedfor round-the- clock services. It should be supported by an efficient ambulanceservice. Prompt medical re lief and sympathetic behavior of the staff is veryimportant in building good public relations. In one of the studies, itwas” observed that consumers were dissatisfied due to misunderstandings,rough behavior of lower cadre staff and poor information and guidance system inthis department.Most patients entering the hospital have many questions andconcerns.
Hospitals must strive to answer their questions. A hospitalinformation booklet provides information that is helpful to patients and theirrelatives. Often, patients are admitted in an elective basis and they have timeto plan their admissions. They can take advantage of these booklets in planningand preparing for their hospital stay. The booklet can be of various types andthe information to be incorporated therein will depend upon many factors. Thehospital administrator should decide, after careful study, as to which informationshould be provided through these booklets.There are certain other aspects which need carefulconsideration which are described in brief as under.