Workplace Violence in Healthcare is a Real Threat

New Technologies Increase Security

SPRYTE Communications is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey’s Health Issues Committee. At our quarterly meeting on September 10, Symtech Solutions Marketing and Business Development Director Brittany Countis provided an overview of workplace violence towards healthcare providers, a growing concern. Countis shared her presentation with SPRYTE. We are running it as SPRYTE Insights’ guest blog this week.

Managing workplace violence in healthcare is a challenge, but life safety systems such as wearable panic buttons can help speed up response time to an emergency. When implemented in a solid violence prevention program, panic buttons can increase the safety of staff and patients, while mitigating risk for the enterprise.

Panic Buttons Are Vital in Violence Prevention Programs which is why they are being mandated in various cities, states and industries due to increase in violence. In hospitality, the city of Miami Beach and state of NJ have mandated the use of panic buttons in hotels over 100 rooms. In the education sector NJ is requiring panic buttons in schools K-12 and PA has provided state grants towards the purchase of panic buttons. The demand for panic button technology in healthcare is on the rise as violence against healthcare workers is being exposed.

Requiring Panic Buttons in Hospitality and Education

The House Education and Labor Committee recently passed the Workplace Violence and Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) which seeks an enforceable federal standard to disrupt the growing level of violence against nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and other caregivers. This bill would offer protections to public-sector workers in the states not under OSHA oversight while calling on employers to identify risks; specify solutions; and require training, reporting and incident investigations. The legislation also would require an interim final OSHA standard one year after enactment and the completion of a final standard within 42 months.

Healthcare professions are at an increased risk for workplace violence. From 2002 to 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence requiring days off from work is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, health care and social service workers suffered 69% of all workplace violence injuries and were nearly five times more likely to experience violence on the job than the average US worker.

Healthcare workers are more likely to get injured at work than police officers and prison guards; nurses suffer in particular. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work, including “intentional injury by other person.” Of the 18,400 injuries reported in the private industry in 2017, 71% were reported in the healthcare and social assistance sector. And this only includes incidents that involved

Symtech Solutions Wearable Panic Button

A solid prevention program offers an effective approach to reduce or eliminate the risk of violence in the workplace. Emergency Call Systems such as Symtech Solutions’ wearable panic button are a vital tool as they can save time in locating a victim during an emergency or attack which can decrease the amount of damage done. Here is how it works:

  1. When an emergency occurs, every minute counts so it’s important to know the exact location of the victim so security can respond directly to the incident. With Symtech’s wearable panic button, security can identify the victim with 100% location accuracy.
  2. Auto-tracking of Symtech’s panic buttons, after the call for help is initiated. This allows security to track them throughout the facility and even into the parking garages.
  3. With Symtech’s wearable panic button, security will know who placed the call, so there is no need to take a roll call.
  4. Symtech’s wearable panic buttons have two-way feedback which indicates to the victim that the call for help was received and help is on the way.
  5. The use of Symtech’s wearable panic buttons reduces the disruption of patients and visitors in the event of an emergency by isolating the incident and responding to the location directly.
  6. Symtech’s wearable panic buttons are a discrete and silent way to call for help without escalating the situation as they can be worn inside clothing and do not annunciate upon activation.
  7. Having a means to call for help provides piece of mind to caregivers who risk themselves for the safety of others everyday.
  8. Panic buttons can prevent bad PR by minimizing the catastrophic damage of an attack and costly legal disputes.

Workplace Violence Costs Healthcare Providers

Workplace violence is taxing on the worker, but also on the organization. A 2017 report prepared for the American Hospital Association estimated that workplace violence cost U.S. hospital and health systems approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, including $280 million related to preparedness and prevention, $852 million in unreimbursed medical care for victims, $1.1 billion in security and training costs, and an additional $429 million in medical care, staffing, indemnity, and other costs related to violence against hospital employees. Further, health workers who were victims of violence experienced an average of 112.8 hours per year of sick, disability, and leave time (excluding long- and short-term disability), which was 60.4 hours more per year than counterparts who had not experienced workplace violence, therefore mitigating the risk for the enterprise. – Brittany Countis

Hospital Eagles Pep Rally Scores

SPRYTE Earned Media Attention with “Littlest Fans”

“If it bleeds, it leads.”

That’s an old adage in journalism, but add this corrollary: “If it bleeds Eagles green, it leads.”

Such was the media environment in our hometown of Philadelphia in the two-week runup to Super Bowl LII, featuring our underdog Birds. Trying to grab the media’s attention for anything other than Eagles-related stories was as futile as trying to dribble a football. Now – and we write this with a broad smile on our faces – all the talk has turned to The Return, and The Parade. In the City of Brotherly Love, there are no other stories of interest.

So when our client, Holy Redeemer Health System, told us soon after Philadelphia punched its ticket to the Big Game about two volunteers including a housekeeper who were furiously knitting Eagles caps for newborns in the maternity ward, we immediately launched a PR blitz. Just think of the earned media potential…a bunch of babies in the nursery sporting handmade green and gray caps. We’ve written here before about the appeal of old people, kids, and animals. The combination of wrinkled babies and underdogs in the city of Rocky was tailor made for cameras.

Not only that, the plan to deck out maternity staff and new parents in Eagles colors turned this into a wonderful morale boost for hospital employees, something different and a great way to let them show off their fandom while reaping attention for their compassionate work year-round.

 

Running the PR Playbook

One camp in the hospital eyed Super Bowl Sunday for the rally, but we called an audible on that, knowing the media would be far too focused on day-of coverage in Minneapolis to notice our rally, not to mention the lack of afternoon news shows on the weekend. We chose the Thursday before the Super Bowl, late morning, to maximize coverage.

Holy Redeemer set about lining up parents to participate, with signed release forms. SPRYTE, meanwhile, developed a media advisory, which we shotgunned to area press two days before the event. The event was dubbed the “Littlest Fans Pep Rally,” and we noted that “Eagles fans don’t come any smaller than this!” We offered interviews with new parents, maternity staff and one of the two cap makers, an 80-year-old woman whose son and daughter both work in the system.

The other cap maker had a personal contact with the local Fox station, and they were immediately on board, planning a live segment for the Good Day Philadelphia program. Despite the fact the “official” rally was planned for 10:30 a.m., maternity staff scrambled to corral resources for the 9:30 segment (and the 9:15 live teaser). This also gave a wider berth to other media attending later…and a chance for the babies to rest in between.

 

Carrying the Campaign into the End Zone

The Good Day piece came off without a hitch, and the reporter did a second stand-up for another story during the afternoon news. There were around 17 babies on hand, including a few from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. One turned out to be the progeny of a Patriots fan, so on-the-ball staff scrambled to craft a New England cap and onesie.

“I suppose we have to love him, because he was born this way.” — Jenny Joyce, Fox Philadelphia.

That poor outlier became a highly prized part of every story. And there were many. We re-set at least three more times that morning, for a daily newspaper whose coverage area accounts for a large portion of births at Holy Redeemer; for two more TV stories (one station arrived conveniently late, so nobody butted heads); and for in-house video to be shot and fed later to yet another network affiliate that couldn’t attend. Our parents, no doubt bleary-eyed and still recovering in the hours after their blessed arrivals, were great sports, happily showing up each time with their game faces on.

The story aired on all four Philadelphia network affiliates between 4:30 and 6 p.m.; most included an interview with the octogenarian cap maker, and every story mentioned Holy Redeemer Hospital by name.

 

Local Babies, National Attention

But the images were just too cute to not “snowball” from there. Fox News national ran a story with photos online. ABC World News included video in its segment on Eagles fandom the night before the game, in the context of team loyalty being passed “from generation to generation.” CNN ran a story, which was picked up by at least one NBC affiliate in Eastern Iowa as part of their Super Bowl coverage.

While the pep rally was a manufactured media event, it wouldn’t have been possible if volunteers weren’t already knitting caps. But once we knew about it, our special teams took the field, ran the playbook, and scored terrific coverage. The smiles are still plastered on our faces, and those of parents and nurses.

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!

Weekend Tennis Wipe Out

Urgent Care Brand Battle

I started playing tennis well over age 40 and for the last six years I’ve been on a United States Tennis Association (USTA) ladies doubles tennis team that travels to outdoor public courts for a 10-week season in late spring.

With a variety of different partners, I’ve only won a couple of matches overall but last year in my very first set of the season, at a local high school court, running backwards to win a point, I slipped and broke my fall with my left wrist.

One of my opponents was a physician.  While accepting our forfeit, she shared her ice packs, asked me a few questions and determined that my wrist was likely broken.  She then strongly suggested that I go to an urgent care center rather than a hospital emergency room because it would be “cheaper” and “faster.”

Through the nausea and pain, that made sense.  But has this ever happened to you?  On a normal day when you’re driving around it seems like there’s an urgent care center on every corner but then, when you really need one, you can’t remember where they are and you can’t decide which one to go to.

Netting Profit in Urgent Care

I’m a healthcare communicator who’s keenly aware of the multitude of competing players so I was actually having an urgent care brand battle in my pain-dulled brain.

As I drove my Jeep out of the high school parking lot with one arm, I seemed to be predisposed against several out-of-town-owned urgent care center brands with generic names and highly evolved signage.  Clearly they weren’t the only choices in our highly populated, competitive region.  There are many urgent care options to choose from.

Should I go to the urgent care center run by the major regional academic medical center with the highest level of trauma care?  Or the Catholic health system’s beautiful new centrally located one?  What about the highly regarded local community health system’s urgent care centers, they have a few? Before they opened four more with closer locations, it was further away but attached to an imaging center.  I was probably going to need X-rays.  At the time, I didn’t even know that the dominant 250-doctor regional multi-location orthopedic practice had a specialty orthopedic urgent care center just 10 minutes away.

Acing Patients’ Needs

At healthcare provider marketing conferences, I always attend the sessions on ambulatory care strategies. There is so much pressure for health systems to turn their focus away from filling hospital beds to providing care where and how consumers want it.

As we all know, that has spurred massive growth in the urgent care category.  Here are some points to consider if your organization is expanding into new communities:

  • The Magic of Location: We promoted shopping centers for more than 20 years and learned that there’s nothing more magical than the perfect location for maximum traffic, visibility, choice and convenience for consumers.  There’s a lot of land grabbing in affluent suburban zip codes.  Do key corners get the business?  Time will tell who the survivors are.

 

  • Brand Signage:   It matters.  I was driving yesterday in a different state and noticed several major health system urgent care centers in brand new strip malls or free-standing buildings.  They had little signs with small logos devoid of enthusiasm.  It looked like a bean counter cut the sign budget, which I understand considering how many TV ads and billboards they’re paying for.  But this underwhelming brand presentation, the main driver of where people will go with their healthcare dollars, is inconsistent with the healthcare provider’s brand advertising.  And it looks weak compared with competitors who understand location branding.

 

  • Consumerism: When the doctor came in with my X-ray results at the urgent care center, he confirmed that my wrist was broken and gave me the card of an orthopedic practice also owned by the same health system and told me to call for an appointment after the weekend.  I thought that was a really smart “feeder” strategy until I looked at the card and saw the practice was in another county 30 minutes away.  So I tapped my social media networks over the weekend asking for orthopedist referrals and ended up with a much more convenient and more highly credentialed choice.  How about if the urgent care center makes your follow-up appointment the next week at a location convenient to your home or work before you leave?  Then, you just have to show up and they’ve already heard about you.

My wrist healed beautifully and this year’s season just ended.  The Volley Girls are already looking ahead to next year.  I finally won a set but not a match.

– Lisa Simon, SPRYTE CEO