Below are some questions to consider when developing and implementing an effective community benefit communication plan.
1. Is your hospital making its mission statement a living document by:
- Ensuring that the board of trustees examines it relatively frequently (every five years) to ensure that it is still relevant to the community?
- Constantly ensuring that its activities are consistent with the mission?
- Publicizing the range of activities that fulfill the mission?
2. Is your hospital ensuring strong board involvement by:
- Ensuring all boards are well advised in order to maintain a high level of communication with the community?
- Ensuring all boards are well informed about the community's needs and desires as it makes program decisions?
3. Does your hospital involve the community regularly by:
- Including the community in the process of assessing, planning, and evaluating the healthcare provider's initiatives and services, thereby, causing the community to be more receptive to understanding the broad community benefits provided?
- Establishing a communication process that will ensure that dissatisfied community members have an opportunity to air their concerns and have them addressed in a constructive way?
4. Is your hospital telling the whole story by:
- Providing information about the entire range of community benefits it provides?Avoiding disproportionate attention on the provision of charity care, which could lead to a specific trade-off between the amount of charity care provided and the amount of tax-exemption allowed?
- Looking carefully at its mission and services to identify ways in which it relieves the government of a burden that would otherwise increase the community's taxes?
- Calling attention to services that would be unavailable if the tax-exempt organization were not present?
5. Does your hospital examine and address unprofitable essential services by:
- Analyzing any service with a financial loss?
- Taking measures to ensure operational efficiency and appropriate payment?
- Publicizing the results of the analysis if findings conclude that a service is well managed but still unprofitable due to community need?
6. Does your hospital put a human face on community benefits by:
- Using the personal stories of employees, volunteers, donors, and patients (honoring patients' privacy, of course) that show the personal side of the services delivered (instead of numbers) in order to make clear the value of community benefits?
7. Does your hospital build health education partnerships by:
- Working with elementary and high schools to meet important health education needs?
- Including these partnerships in its comprehensive reporting of community benefits?
8. Does your hospital model fiscal responsibility by:
- Being sensitive to its role in the community, both in ensuring judicious financial relationships and in the lifestyles of the leadership?
- Avoiding the perception of an individual reaping a financial windfall at the expense of the organization, its programs, and the community?
Source: These questions were adapted from P&P Board Issue Analysis 05-01 (April 2005) Appendix A - Creating a Record of Charity Care Policies and Activities
Publication Date: Thursday, July 08, 2010