Planning Is Half the Battle: How to Respond When a Crisis Hits

Whether you work for a physician practice, community hospital, health plan, device or drug manufacturer, healthcare information technology firm, or large healthcare system, your organization could be just one crisis away from losing customers, patients, millions of dollars in revenue, and just as damaging—your reputation.

So what do you do if your organization is hit with an unexpected crisis? A quick action plan and clear strategy can be the difference between thriving or surviving in times of crises.

Here are five immediate steps to contain the situation and seek action:


  1. Find the root of the issue. Before you can put a plan in place, assess the situation to understand what caused the problem in the first place. You must determine how it will be corrected and how to prevent it from happening again in the future. You will need to talk with internal teams to understand who knew about the issue and how it accelerated.
  2. Communicate internally. The first line of defense is your internal team. First, acknowledge awareness of the issue and let internal stakeholders know how you plan to address the issue and the timeline for resolution. Map out roles and responsibilities for response teams and determine who will be responsible for managing the message and addressing operational issues.
  3. Inform early and listen. Once you have internal response teams established, communicate with the public, and, when appropriate, the media. This may include direct outreach, press releases, social media, and media interviews. Have someone assigned to monitor media and social channels to determine public perception. This step is instrumental in understanding the breadth and depth of the issue.
  4. Deliver frequent, transparent updates. Honesty is essential to credibility. Assume responsibility and be accountable for the actions that led to the issue. It’s pivotal that you keep your stakeholders—internal and external—up to date on the issue. Tell them what you’re doing to correct the issue and tell them again. Take immediate steps to correct any misinformation.
  5. Debrief on the issue. Every issue presents an opportunity to learn and be better prepared when the next crisis strikes. Debrief with your internal teams to discuss learnings from the crisis. What worked well? What didn’t? How can you avoid similar issues in the future?


It can take decades to build your brand and reputation, but it can be destroyed in a single day. Too often, crisis planning is an afterthought for healthcare organizations, in part because of the complicated world in which you operate. It’s this complexity that makes it even more critical to have a comprehensive, dynamic plan that can be operationalized within minutes.

If you haven’t made crisis management planning a priority, your company is at risk. Download our guide and learn the five steps to preparing and implementing a crisis management plan to mitigate the risks.

March 8, 2018
Is your healthcare organization ready for a crisis?
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