Manager of Public Policy, PROMO
In the last Missouri Case study, a review of our old strategy revealed several challenges we faced in sparking positive policy change. Assessing our approach on outreach to Missouri Hospitals proved to be successful in helping us move past many of the challenges that we initially experienced. Though one challenge still remained for Missouri LGBT health advocates: how do we get hospitals engaged in a review of their LGBT welcoming policies?
This is a tricky question, because engaging hospitals can be daunting. Not only is it hard to identify the right person, especially given a hospital’s size and employee numbers, but it is equally as difficult to get hospitals to sit down to review their policies. Needless to say, and I can only speak for myself on this project, this question gave me several sleepless nights.
In crafting an initial letter, our goal was to jump start hospitals into a review of their LGBT welcoming policies. We also wanted to include an individualized report of where the hospital stood in regards to their LGBT welcoming policies. The strategy behind our initial outreach was as follows:
- Give background to the policy review – Identify yourself and your organization, begin building that confidence with hospitals as the local leader.
- Create a sense of urgency – Our LGBT welcoming policy recommendations were also recommended by the Joint Commission for Accreditation and by the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index for LGBT patient-centered policies.
- Establish credibility – By identifying hospitals that we were already engaged with in a similar review, helped to establish and maintain our credibility.
- Clearly identify your ‘ask’ – Our main ask was to identify a representative with whom we could work and engage further on the review process.
- Give them a tangible look at their policies – Giving hospitals an individualized report of our LGBT policy recommendations, along with where they stood on these policies was a road map they could use to navigate our review.
The original outreach letter can be found below, along with an example report that we sent to hospitals. These two pieces were sent to the CEO/President, senior-level Human Resources, and Diversity Executives of our targeted hospitals to begin engaging them on the review of their policies. Go big or go home, right? Finding contact information for these executives was simple – using a hospital’s website was the easiest way to find this information.
Knowing that these hospitals had not engaged with our organization up to this point, we were cautiously optimistic on the reaction we would get from executives. We tried not to worry if we did not hear from a hospital from this initial letter, even though I did. Later, we discovered that because our targets were ‘Senior-level’, the letter would be taken through several back channels before it ended up on their desk. At this level, many of our targets have assistants and several staffers who know what information to pass along and what to discard. Employing the above strategies helped us to get our information passed along to our targets. In the next case study, we will walk through the second outreach attempt and the strategies we used to hook hospitals into our review process.