What role does the media play in modern day hospitals?
Generally- any info regarding hospital relationships with public relations/media in local communities. What types of policies exist in hospitals etc. How do administrators build relationships with the local media to be beneficial in times of crisis
Media are very critical in regulating or influencing the public opinion on various issues. I am thinking, in particular, of the swine flu epidemic in Texas. It's been really bad in Texas; and several hospitals have been the focus of media attention. One hospital was shown as positively handling the huge influx of patients with swine flu sysmptoms. They had tents in the parking lot; and doctors were seeing swine flu patients in the tents. It looked like a zoo; but the way the media painted it, you would think they were in a third world country, doing some Red Cross volunteer project. In fact, they were in no way near being prepared for the patients. However, the media's ability to handle the circus allowed them to be seen as competent.
The media can serve as a subjective check-and-balance for hospitals throughout the country. Media outlets can also provide praise or condemnation on hospitals in times of crisis or sensational events. Each hospital has a media or public relations spokesperson whose job is to provide media with information related to their facility. Given regulations of privacy and confidentiality (HIPAA & FERPA), the hospital must remain vigilant that only accurate, permissible information is conveyed to the media markets.
In times of crisis or during specific events that are news-worthy, the hospital's administration must act quickly to present themselves in a positive light. They need immediate information on patient status, patient count, and how the hospital plans to deal with the crisis at hand. Given the sensationalism surrounding horrific events such as school shootings or trapped miners, these hospitals must be dutiful to their patients' trust and privacy and reveal only information that does not identify key characteristics of any patient's identity. On the other hand, the media will expect answers in order to satiate their demand for news coverage.