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Niagara Health System: An Innovative Communications Strategy (A) Case Solution & Answer

Niagara Health System: An Innovative Communications Strategy (A) Case Solution

Introduction

Niagara Health System, a network of seven hospitals, was located in the Niagara region of Ontario State in Canada. The case highlights three main issues faced by the health system in the fiscal year 2011. During the colostrum difficult outbreak, an interim communications officer (i.e. Brady Wood) joined the Niagara Health Care System on secondment from St. Joseph Health System. After joining the Niagara Health Care System, Brady realized that the organization’s public communication problems were not a result of the C. difficult outbreak, but the poor relationships and networks with the public and the local media caused the communication imbalances. The case revolves around the examination of the hospital communications, its practices and trends; the struggles of Niagara Health System in communications and the strategies used by the hospital in dealing with the outbreak and maintaining trust worthy relationships and the hospital’s reputation. (Anne Snowdon, 2015)

Problem Statement

In September 2011, Brady Wood completed his two months as the interim communications officer at Niagara Health Care System from Joseph Health System. Brady Wood remained a renowned crisis communications expert. After joining the hospital, Brady faced the communication challenges during the C. Difficile outbreak. Niagara Health Care System maintained a network of seven hospitals, whereby, it struggled with its public reputation and communications for more than 10 years. The crisis management officer soon realized that the communication problems were not merely isolated by the outbreak, but it extended far beyond it. In order to gain the public community’s confidence, the hospital needed to adopt a new communication strategy and approach.

Company Background

The Niagara Health Care System was a network of seven hospitals, which was located in the Niagara region in Ontario State of Canada. As a result of high complex merger between eight hospitals, the Niagara Health Care System was established in the year 2000. The network of seven hospitals was serving almost 12 municipalities and 434 residents around the Ontario State. The hospital had been roughly maintaining 4000 employees, 1000 volunteers and 600 physicians, because of which Niagara was considered as one of the largest employers in the Ontario State.

The National Health Care System’s vision claimed “Together in Excellence – Leaders in Health Care”. To achieve the organizations’ mission, the company adopted the usage of integrated systems by providing an on-time and a fair access to the health care services for the vast number of patients across the Niagara region. Overall, the company tried to improve the community’s well-being by maintaining partnerships and networks with other health care service providers throughout Niagara.

Industry Challenges in Hospital Communications

The health care communications’ field had become very complicated across Ontario. The communications crisis were becoming frequent due to the unpredictable hospital care’s nature. The shifting trends among the consumer and patients sides were a major cause of communications’ crisis. The general public and the patients lacked their trust with the hospitals, as they started relying on information from the social media, in order to remain involved and informed about the day-to-day operations of health care providers.

Due to information demands from the customers, the media started highlighting the hospital’s operations, which further led to authenticity requirement by the customers. The hospitals were required by law to be open and transparent for the general public. The Government passed an Apology Act in 2009 and Excellent for All Act in 2010, which required the hospitals to be transparent and meet the customer’s needs by putting them at priority levels.

These measures aroused the hospitals’ need for maintaining confidence, with the patients and general public. The hospitals used to focus on the patient satisfaction, providing quality and safe services, financial performance and increasing the employee engagement levels. Rather, the shifting customer trends required the hospitals to include the hospitals’ reputation and public metric in their health care systems. The negative public opinion and lack of trust among the patients and the general public led to wide range of problems for the hospitals, which included lack of volunteers, lower funding by government, low level of donations, decreased hiring even change in board with the supervisors, appointed by the government.

Challenges in Niagara Health System

After joining the Niagara Health System, Brady Wood realized that the organization’s communication crisis was extended beyond the outbreak. Different community groups, media, parliament officials and the mayor were criticizing the NHS. The outbreak was a recent incident but the organizations’ public relations remained upset for years. Wood discovered that he had to devise two different strategies, one to deal with the C. difficile outbreak and second to maintain a good public reputation of the hospital.

Managing the C. Difficult Outbreak

In managing the C. Difficult outbreak, Brady had to satisfy both the internal as well as the external stakeholders. The outbreak was a complicated issue to be managed. It needed to be catered with careful clinical themes, including: cleaning practices availability of incubation periods, hand hygiene, antibiotic stewardship etc. Additionally, the outbreak’s end was unknown and the spread was slow, which made it difficult for the hospital to public-ally release information about the outbreaks. Not only this, there were no provincial guidelines for the hospital about disclosing outbreak related information. The NHS hospital had very few private rooms, which led towards a decreased customer satisfaction and an increased infection rates……………………….

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