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Public Relations

Healthcare Public Relations: Transparency

With such high levels of distrust in the healthcare field, transparency is essential

In recent news, “Armando Gonzalez, owner of now-defunct Health Care Solutions Network Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in federal district court in Miami Monday” (WSJ).

According to the Wall Street Journal article, “HCSN employees routinely fabricated patient census data and patient medical records to support fraudulent billing to government-sponsored health  care programs”  (WSJ).

This article inspired me to think critically about the role of healthcare communicators in demonstrating transparency and integrity to protect the reputation of their organization. Healthcare public relations deal with sensitive issues related to people’s health and financial situation.

This is where PR pros can become the “conscious” of the organization by taking a seat at the table and advising their organizations leaders on how to make decisions that are in the best interest of the business and their stakeholders.

In addition, the communicators ability to effectively manage relationships with stakeholders impacts how everyone from patients to investors feel about particular services offered from hospitals, insurance providers and physicians. There is a low level of institutional trust between patients and institutions (hospitals, etc.) due to a more informed and demanding general public.

This poses a potential threat and opportunity to organizations depending on the way in which the business is run. Communicating that an organization has its stakeholders best interests in line is one thing; acting in the best interest of stakeholders is another thing.

I believe that this article about medical fraud poses a PR issue for anyone in the healthcare field, because this is not an anomaly. These things happen every day on a smaller scale.

How do we combat this? What is our role as communicators in ensuring that the businesses we support are ethically sound?

The solution to this problem will also disprove the claims that PR people are “spin doctors.”

More on this topic:

Transparency cures many communications ills

Transparency on Health Care Costs Enhanced in Virginia

Lying and Transparency

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


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