Media coverage can be difficult to manage for any organisation, especially when news stories are topical. We've all seen the damage that negative press can do to a business, and the sensationalist approach of many journalists doesn't help.
But when it comes to the NHS, this impact is magnified many times over. As a government institution, funded by taxpayers and delivering vital public services, it's subject to particular scrutiny.
The balance of coverage is a contentious issue. We read stories about failing hospitals, an A&E crisis, missed targets and poor patient care on a regular basis. Although these are important and serious topics, they often present a biased view and do not consider the many good things happening in the NHS and healthcare as a whole.
Of course, we also know that's the way media works. Controversy sells. An exposed crisis or exaggerated drama grabs readers' attention and boosts sales. However, it also undermines trust and confidence in the individuals and organisations involved, creating a culture of frustration, fear and over-defensiveness1. Ultimately, it can tarnish reputation.
The NHS can't control media coverage - but it can influence its sources.
The importance of a positive reputation
Reputation management is an increasingly high priority for NHS trust boards and industry leaders. Beyond its derogatory influence on morale and trust, a compromised reputation can also significantly affect a healthcare organisation's ability to deliver high-quality care, as well as financial performance, commercial effectiveness and patient choice. It's also hard to rebuild a positive image, once it's been tainted. In contrast, a positive reputation can significantly improve efficiency and increase engagement with the local community.
As such, any negative media story must be managed quickly and effectively. This is not easy and requires strong leadership qualities - but it's a process made much easier if the right resources are in place to support it from an operational point of view. These resources must be collaborative and inclusive, to make it easier for everyone to work together to resolve potentially complex issues.
This collective accountability and shared responsibility, is much easier to achieve with strong data management in place.
Technology can mitigate risk
Technology is playing a central and crucial role in creating sustainable change in the NHS. This all helps to foster a more positive media image. From a data management perspective, a reliable, collaborative and accurate system gives healthcare professionals across an organisation the confidence that they can access comprehensive information about patients and their pathways, whenever and wherever they need it. This creates a cohesive, 'joined-up' data environment which brings disparate departments together, makes reporting easier, enables more informed decision-making and improves clinical and operational efficiency.
As a result, when an issue does arise, its risk can be mitigated with a response that is fast, holistic and based on invaluable insight. It reduces the opportunity for negative press coverage and misplaced public perceptions.
In short, well-managed data gives you greater control, in any circumstances. So, if a mistake is made and you need to be accountable, you're able to explain what happened, why and how, with greater ease - and rectify the issue more effectively. Success depends not only on technology, but on strong leadership.
Good reputations start with good data
As enterprise data management specialists, Insource can help you develop and deploy a robust EDM strategy. We've spent more than 20 years creating healthcare solutions alongside our NHS customers, for the benefit of the entire UK healthcare community. We can help you design and deploy user-friendly, robust data management strategies that meet your objectives while minimising risk and cost of ownership.
Our white paper 'Meeting challenges with change: Managing today's NHS' takes a closer look at the issues facing today's healthcare providers, and how innovative technology - and specifically data management - can help alleviate them. We hope you enjoy it.
Download the white paper here.