Humanizing Health Care: Telling the Hospital Story

Texas hospitals are striving to redefine the industry narrative, shedding light on the humanity that exists in the health care system.


When it comes to our health and well-being, having the right information is critical and can be, in some cases, life or death.

Unfortunately, we live in an era of misinformation, disinformation, and sometimes too much information. Breaking through the noise to know what’s important and deciphering what’s true from what’s false can add a layer of uncertainty to any choice, especially to health-related decisions.

Recently, the narrative about the health care system has shifted from reverential to suspicious, questioning the intentions of hospitals and the credibility of large health care institutions.

The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and Health found that public trust in the U.S. health care system is declining, with major inhibitors including cost of care, trust in information, and confidence in the health care institution.

The Texas Hospital Association has long been battling this narrative, inside the Capitol, in communities across the state, and even at the federal level. During Texas’ 2023 legislative session, THA released a white paper refuting 15 of the most common misconceptions about hospitals and Texas health care.

Texas Hospitals are Reclaiming Reality in 2024

How Texas hospitals were portrayed as the source of health care’s ills during 2023 – and how THA plans to set the record straight in the coming year. The full article is available now on The Scope.

Texas Hospitals are Reclaiming Reality in 2024

However, following the conclusion of the 2023 regular session, the anti-hospital rhetoric is stronger than ever, with some supporters propagating the narrative that hospitals are perpetuating challenges patients face when trying to receive care.

“Our adversaries say the cost of hospital care is too expensive, that hospitals got rich during the pandemic, and that we’re more focused on billing, suing patients and hiding our prices than we are on providing high-quality patient care,” said Brad Holland, president and CEO of Hendrick Health in Abilene and Texas Hospital Association 2024 board chair.

“The reality is: We need more staff, and our margins are historically low. Federal and state regulations continue to rise. Hospital cash reserves are dwindling. The number of uninsured continues to rise, while government reimbursement continues to fall farther behind actual costs. Meanwhile, our hospitals remain the cornerstone of public health and provide life-saving care 24/7,” Holland explained.

Working to correct this narrative is critical to policy success in the 2025 legislative session and rebuilding hospital trust within Texas communities. That’s why it’s paramount that hospitals are effective in telling their stories.

Telling Texas Hospitals’ Stories

In the health care industry, hospitals are pillars of healing, hope and health. However, behind the sterile walls, lies an essential aspect often overlooked: the human element.

At the heart of every hospital story are the people – patients, families, doctors, nurses and support staff. Their experiences, emotions and interactions shape the narrative about health care.

Texas hospitals provide some of the best care in the country, and showcasing that life-saving work is key to humanizing health care.

From working with traditional media and staying engaged on social media, to actively participating in community events and building relationships with key community leaders, there are so many ways that hospitals can share their mission and advocate for the work they do.

Here are some of the ways Texas hospitals can and are telling their stories:

Highlighting Hospital Awards and Achievements

Sharing hospital awards and achievements with the public and media is crucial for showcasing the quality of care and dedication to excellence within the institution. Publicizing awards demonstrates a commitment to high standards and patient satisfaction, instilling confidence in current and prospective patients. It also reinforces the hospital’s position as a trusted health care provider and promotes transparency in its operations. By highlighting these accomplishments, hospitals not only bolster their reputation but also build credibility with patients, stakeholders and the community at large.

Sharing Patient Success Stories

One of the fundamental aspects of humanizing health care is acknowledging and honoring the stories that unfold within hospital walls. Each patient’s journey is unique, filled with moments of vulnerability, resilience and triumph. By amplifying these stories, hospitals can connect on a deeper level with their community and foster a sense of empathy and understanding while illustrating the profound difference they make in people’s lives and emphasizing the humanity that exists within health care. These narratives can serve as powerful testimonials, inspiring hope, and highlighting the dedication of health care professionals.

Recognizing Providers’ Accolades and Accomplishments

Publicizing doctors’ and nurses’ achievements is essential for showcasing the expertise and dedication of health care professionals within a hospital. Providers are entrusted with their patients’ livelihoods so the more you can amplify their qualifications and medical specialties and endorse the high-quality care they provide, the more confidence patients will have in seeking care from your providers. By sharing these accomplishments with the public and media, you are also demonstrating the caliber of your hospital’s staff and reinforcing their commitment to excellence in patient care.

Amplifying Research, Innovation and Expansions to Care

Expanding services and care through research and innovation is a cornerstone of a hospital’s evolution and credibility. By continually pushing boundaries and embracing advancements in medical science and technology, hospitals demonstrate their commitment to providing cutting-edge care to their patients. Through research initiatives and innovative practices, hospitals can expand their range of services, offering patients access to groundbreaking treatments and therapies. This not only enhances patient outcomes but also reinforces the hospital’s reputation as a leader in health care innovation.

Celebrating Hospital Week, Holidays and More

For patients, experiencing festivities during their stay can provide a comforting and reassuring atmosphere, helping to alleviate stress and promote healing. Likewise, for hospital staff, these occasions offer opportunities for camaraderie and connection, boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. These celebrations not only uplift spirits but also create a sense of community and belonging within the hospital walls. Sharing how hospitals celebrate holidays, days/weeks of recognition, and special occasions is another vital component to humanizing health care. By amplifying hospitals’ efforts to bring joy to what can often be a scary place, hospitals demonstrate their dedication to holistic care and emphasize their mission to provide compassionate care to their community.

Resources for Celebrating National Hospital Week

The Texas Hospital Association is honored to celebrate our member hospitals and health care workers during National Hospital Week, May 12–18, 2024.

Social Graphic, "Celebrating Texas Hospitals, May 12-18, 2024"

Connecting with the Community

Participating in community events and outreach provides great opportunity for hospitals to establish a strong presence within their local communities. By actively engaging with the community outside of a clinical setting, hospitals demonstrate their commitment to being more than just health care providers – they become neighbors and integral parts of their community. These interactions offer opportunities to connect with community members, build relationships and foster trust. Community outreach initiatives also showcase the hospital’s dedication to improving the health and well-being of the community beyond the confines of their facilities. This involvement not only enhances the hospital’s visibility but also strengthens its reputation as a caring and supportive institution invested in the overall health and prosperity of the community it serves.

Shedding Light on Organizational Partnerships

Collaborating with community partners allows hospitals to leverage resources, expertise, and networks to better serve the diverse needs of their patient population. These partnerships enable hospitals to extend their reach beyond clinical care, addressing social determinants of health and promoting health equity. Sharing the organizational partnerships and community collaborations that your hospital participates in is a great way to underscore your hospital’s role as a catalyst for positive change within its community. It also demonstrates your hospital’s proactive approach to community engagement and its commitment to working collaboratively towards improving the health and well-being of your community.

Building Relationships

Establishing relationships with community leaders, local media, lawmakers and other external stakeholders is paramount for hospitals in bolstering credibility and garnering support within their community. These connections not only offer valuable insights into local health care needs and priorities but also demonstrate the hospital’s commitment to collaborative, community-driven solutions. When these parties are kept in the loop or even involved in decision-making processes and initiatives, it fosters a sense of ownership and investment in the hospital’s mission and goals.

Taking it one step farther, inviting lawmakers to your hospital provides a powerful opportunity to convey the realities of health care needs firsthand. Rather than just explaining the needs of your hospital and others to policymakers, hosting them on-site offers a tangible, immersive experience. It allows them to witness the intricacies of your day-to-day operations and understand firsthand why you are seeking their support at the Capitol. This direct engagement is essential for lawmakers to truly grasp the importance of the issues at hand and the impact of their decisions on health care providers and patients alike.

Ultimately, building strong relationships with community stakeholders is instrumental in enhancing the hospital’s reputation and solidifying its position as a trusted and valued member of the community.

Storytelling for a Successful Session

While the Edelman report found that trust in health care institutions is declining, it also found that people have more of a vested interest in their personal health than ever before. They are searching for answers, educating themselves on their options and wanting to ensure they seek the best care possible.

For hospitals, this means there is an appetite for your stories to be heard.

Sharing the life-saving care that is provided around the clock in hospitals and the role hospitals play in their communities is the only way to fight back against negative industry perception and restore hospitals’ reputation as safe havens for their communities.

As the 2025 Texas legislative session inches closer, this effort only becomes more important.

Whether you are a community member or a hospital executive, we all have a vested interest in ensuring our hospitals are well-positioned to provide life-saving care when needed, and our voices can make that difference.

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