Does your health system have a chief reputation officer?

There's more at risk than we realize for healthcare organizations.

At least, according to Paul Keckley, PhD, managing director of Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, what's most at risk for healthcare organizations may not be what we think it is.

"In coming weeks and months, reputations in healthcare will be at risk," Dr. Keckley wrote in "Pulse Weekly," a newsletter on health reform. "Not just the big drug companies facing pressure about their pricing or big insurers about their premium increases and the motives for their consolidation. They're at risk in our communities where our promises to deliver high-quality care are contrasted to public data showing otherwise, and where we overpromise efficiency and cost effectiveness and under-deliver. They're at risk in our organizations as leaders are chosen and others depart, and as partnerships and collaborations form and then under-perform when cultures collide. They're at risk in chat rooms and social media, where stories are shared that companies prefer be kept secret."

According to Dr. Keckley, reputation is at risk, making chief reputation officers some of the most valuable hires a healthcare organization can make. Chief reputation officers measure and monitor an organization's reputation, built on relationships and performance over time.

This he distinguishes from branding — Reputation, he writes, is fragile, and built on perceived truth of the people both inside and outside an organization. It can't be cooked up by a PR and marketing team, but it can seriously impact the bottom line. According to data cited by Dr. Keckley, up to a quarter of a company's market value boils down to its reputation.

That's not to say brands don't matter, Dr. Keckley said, but reputation matters more. Glossy ads in airline magazines and "Top 100" titles can't stand up to what real people say about an organization and how it impacts its community.

It may be time to ask, does your organization have a chief reputation officer?


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