Crisis Communication: Community Health Systems

Computer hacks are not entirely far-fetched these days. It seems that more and more companies are finding themselves in the hands of a hack before they even realize it. The most recent major hack was within Community Health Systems, one of the United States’ leading operators for 206 hospitals across the nation. Hacks are something that PR professionals need to acknowledge, as you could one day find yourself in the position of handling a similar corporate crisis.

Hackers stole data from at least 4.5 million patients. 4.5 million. Just to name a few pieces of information, this means that hackers have access to names, social security numbers, addresses, birthdays, and telephone numbers. Information regarding credit cards has not been stolen, yet this personal information alone leaves space for identity fraud.

(Source: ABCNews)

The idea of an identity theft of this majority leaves many people nervous and cautious.

How do you handle this as the PR coordinator? CHS handled it by immediately hiring experts in the cyber-security field to track down where and when the hack took place. The FBI has also been in close contact with the hospital network to bring down the perpetrators as quickly as possible.

The sticky part of CHS’ situation is that patients have grounds to CHS for negligence. This takes the situation into legal matters over those regarding publicity.

Community Health Systems’ effort to settle the heavy hearts of its patients includes filing with the Securites and Exchange Commission, stating that it “carries cyber/privacy liability insurance to protect it against certain losses related to matters of this nature.” CHS reassures patients that hackers’ malware has been removed from their systems completely and that extra precaution has been set forth to avoid this type of hack to ever happen again.

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