Insights From Our Editors

Crisis Management 101: Are You Ready?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Oct. 23, 2019

Crises, ranging from natural disasters, to technology malfunction, and beyond, can strike unexpectedly. Here are tips for managing any crisis that may arise in your practice.

Most of us don’t like to think about the business crises that can happen. What would you, or your family, do, if any of the following happened: you died, an eyecare manufacturer had a major issue with a product you prescribed for your patient, or several of your key team members left the practice simultaneously? All of these are real situations that could happen.

Small-to-medium sized businesses, which includes most eyecare practices, often are unprepared for a business crisis, and try to address the problem on the fly. A better approach is to have a business crisis plan in place. Here are five steps that should be in your written crisis management plani:

Have a written plan
Start by creating a written plan with clear objectives. The objectives during a crisis are:
• to protect any individual (employee or public) who may be endangered by the crisis.
• to ensure the key audiences are kept informed.
• to make sure the practice survives.

As the practice owner, you must have a written succession plan. This is an essential part of your practice exit strategy.

Identify a spokesperson
If the crisis potentially impacts the health or well-being of patients, it may attract media attention. To ensure the practice speaks with one voice and delivers a singular, consistent message, identify who you want to be your spokesperson. This person must be prepared to answer media questions and participate in interviews. Media training is important for this person as part of their job description.

Be honest and open
A lack of honesty and transparency is the fastest way to generate negative media coverage. Honesty and transparency must be projected through all communications channels. When done correctly it helps stop rumors and helps defuse a potential media frenzy.

Keep employees informed
It’s just good practice to keep your staff informed. In a crisis, they will be suffering from anxiety and insecurity. Plus, an informed workforce minimizes the internal rumor mill that can lead to employees posting false reports on social media.

Communicate with patients and suppliers
You want your patients and suppliers to learn about the crisis from you and not through the media. How are you going to regularly update them during the crisis? With today’s social media and 24/7 news cycle, the crisis-management plan must contain both social media and local news organizations. Who is going to be on this team and what is their plan?

With a written crisis-management plan, your practice can have the processes and procedures in place to address almost any issue that may develop.

When developing your crisis management plan, seek advice from the experts that include your leadership team, employees, patients, communications experts, attorneys and financial managers. Each of these people can provide valuable insights that could be critical should a crisis strike your practice.

Take this week to create your written crisis-management plan.

References
i. https://www.inc.com/bruce-condit/7-critical-steps-to-crisis-management.html

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