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What can healthcare leaders learn from recent controversies?

Healthcare lessons can be found anywhere and everywhere, if you're looking hard enough. Industry leaders only need to pay attention to current events to find cautionary tales and important takeaways. Here are two recent controversies and the valuable messages they carry for healthcare executives:

Trust is essential: When veteran news anchor Brian Williams embellished a tale about his experience on a military helicopter during the Iraq War he tarnished a stellar reputation that had taken a decade to build in one fell swoop. It was a single mistake but it instantly eroded what made Brian Williams so successful in the first place: trust. In industries like journalism and healthcare, where the end goal is providing aid and information to the public, credibility is paramount. When people no longer have confidence in the services a hospital provides they will simply stop using them. Second chances are rare in the court of public opinion.

Pick up the pieces: On the off-chance that an organization's trustworthiness is ever called into question the company must be able to pick up the pieces. When Anthem suffered a data breach that exposed the private information of over 80 million customers, CEO Joseph Swedish immediately began to take steps to repair the costly mistake. He told the L.A. Times, "It's my view that how we engage with our members and customers in difficult times truly defines our relationship with them. Our primary goal is to earn back their trust and confidence in Anthem." It is going to be a long road for Anthem, but openly taking responsibility and working to right any mistakes that were made shows that the company is capable of remorse. Healthcare executives should know how to handle themselves in a crisis. Attempts to shift the blame and becoming overly defensive will only further increase the damage. 

One way for hospital leaders to effectively evaluate public opinion is to engage with real time patient feedback. Service like Patient Approved allow executives to view and respond to patient concerns, and take steps to improve if needed.