External Relations – Community Relations

Community relations risks in healthcare organizations relate to poor public relations and can result in an impact to the
patient care experience, reputational loss, resources and/or financial loss. This risk can be associated with deterioration in the therapeutic relationship, perceived lack of public confidence, lack of community engagement and/or alignment, financial donor impact, volunteer and/or staff recruitment. This document contains information entered by HIROC subscriber healthcare organizations (acute and non-acute) in the Risk Register application to help you in your assessment of this risk.


  • Likelihood – average score 3.41
  • Impact – average score 2.56

The Risk Register allows for risks to be assessed on a five-point likelihood and impact scale, with five being the highest.

Key controls/mitigation strategies

  • Patients:
    • Patient and family engagement plan
    • Patient and Family Advisory Council feedback and including, strategic and quality improvement planning
    • Quality of Care review process for lessons learned and opportunity for improvements
    • Quality improvement plans which include improvements related to safety and patient-centred areas
    • Welcome package for patients to assist patient/caregiver in care trajectory to manage expectations
    • Collaborative care model to engage patients, and seek feedback on patient experience
  • Alliances and Partnerships:
    • Regional approach to integrated healthcare delivery
    • Community engagement strategy (outreach to health service partners, community groups and external stakeholders)
    • Partnerships with municipal emergency control group
    • Ongoing fostering of community partner relationships
    • Board committee focused on philanthropic efforts
  • Communication:
    • Keeping staff informed and providing information and messaging they can transfer to patients/families/caregivers
    • Promotion of positive patient care stories with board, staff, community and external speaking
    • engagements
    • Crisis communications plan
    • Media relations strategy
    • Proactive sharing of organization information with the community through various avenues such as: email, telephone town halls, newspaper
    • Established and consistent external communication vehicles (e.g. Twitter, internet, outreach and awareness)
    • Policy such as: social media, external communications, complaint management
    • Consistent branding
    • Regional communications team for consistent messaging
    • Communications approval process (media releases, advisories, and social media posts)
  • Feedback and complaints :
    • Regular patient/family/caregiver experience evaluation surveys and action plan
    • Post discharge calls and service excellence survey’s
    • Patient feedback management policy and procedure
    • Disclosure process policy and procedure
    • Dedicated resources for patient experience/relations to support and role model complaints management processes, communications
    • On call personnel for escalation as required


  • Metrics
    • Data and analysis of complaints and compliments
    • Balanced scorecard metrics with potential for care and reputational loss (e.g. wait times)
    • Patient experience survey satisfaction results
    • Change to donor patterns of giving
    • Patient relations process; satisfaction rate, time to acknowledge and closure
    • Regular tracking and analysis of media stories; social media posts, website comments/activity
  • Engagement Monitoring
    • Staff engagement survey results
    • Debrief after crisis events
    • Community involvement in strategic planning
    • Executive team regular agenda item: community partnerships
    • Regular meetings with stakeholders, or partners