Tag Archives: care transformation

In times of change, healthcare leaders turn to internal communications experts

CommunicationHealthcare leaders recognize the importance of internal communication experts when it comes to creating awareness, understanding and support for organizational change. And it goes without saying that “change” is the new watchword of the healthcare industry.

From development of accountable care organizations, to cost reduction initiatives, to implementation of health IT systems and EMRs, to the creation of new ventures and partnerships, the magnitude and rate of change for healthcare workers are significant.

But not all of the messaging is getting through.

“We’re putting out more and more information, but seem to be getting less and less support for what we need to do,” declared a hospital administrator. And therein lies the problem. One of the most common traps we fall into is confusing information sharing with communication. The act of telling someone something does not necessarily equate to information received or understood.

So how do health system executives rally the troops to gain support for large scale change initiatives?

The answer is strategic internal communications, a purposeful approach to translating corporate strategy, activities and issues for the workforce, and developing messaging, methods and channels to reach, engage and rally support from internal audiences.

To get the most out of internal communications functions, healthcare executives as well corporate communications leaders, must first define the role of internal communications beyond that of simply disseminating information. Best practices demonstrate focused alignment of internal communication initiatives to corporate goals, engagement of managers at all levels as linchpins in the communications process, and expert communications professionals that serve as strategists and counselors across the health system.

5 Areas of Strategic Focus for Internal Communicators

Focused, strategic internal communication initiatives can build a strong sense of identity, purpose, values and culture among employees; facilitate strategic transformation and change; and engage leaders and staff in meaningful and productive ways.

The operative word is focus. Communicators must discern the difference between nice-to-do activities and mission-critical communications strategies and tactics. For most healthcare organizations, strategic internal communications will yield the most impact when focused on five core areas:

  1. Corporate Strategy – informing, engaging and building commitment to the health system’s vision, strategy, goals and major initiatives.
  2. Brand Alignment – creating a unified internal identity, sense of purpose, values-driven culture and brand experience.
  3. Change Management – informing and educating staff about major changes and the impact on jobs, work flow and processes; facilitating adoption of new practices.
  4. Issues Management – informing, rallying support for, and managing critical issues and unplanned events that impact staff, affect employee relations and damage reputation.
  5. Workplace Culture – engaging employees in major events, recognizing and celebrating staff achievements, and creating a sense of pride in the work and the workplace.

When Trust is Established, People Become Active Participants

Leadership is tested most during times of organizational transition. And nothing can derail progress like a workforce that is at best disengaged, but all too often just plain mistrustful of management’s intent. A well-developed, focused internal communications strategy and capability can change that – and facilitate organizational transformation by engaging employees in change management, inspiring staff to live and deliver the brand, and building commitment to mission, vision and goals.

The bottom line – and the impact on the bottom line – comes from realizing that better communications, not just more information, will drive success.

The Healthcare Marketer’s Role in Innovation

Scan any health system strategic plan these days and you’ll see the word “transformation.”  It’s a top of mind issue for healthcare executives trying to restructure, position and prepare their organizations for success in the new world.   Changing economics are front and center, and require new ways of thinking about care delivery, market growth, risk management and customer engagement.

But transformation does not happen without innovation.  Customer orientation, creativity, and culture are key leverage points for chief marketing officers (CMOs) to drive innovations in brand activities, service offerings, packaging, customer experience, customer engagement, channel management, pricing, and strategic partnerships that strengthen competitive performance. 

This new era will create unprecedented opportunities for marketing leaders to step up and be integral catalysts for innovations that bring about growth, increased customer loyalty and better business performance.  Creating new markets, moving market share, developing new sources of revenue, building brand loyalty, improving profitability, and sustaining competitiveness are all goals of innovation. 

Success stems from creative thinking, fresh solutions, and relevance to customers.  And that puts marketing front and center as the curator of customer intelligence. 

We know that consumers are frustrated by the complexities of access, fragmentation of care, lack of communications, and other aspects of care delivery (oh, I can tell you some stories!). Yet, most of the industry is woefully behind in providing on-line conveniences such as scheduling and customer communications.  Opportunities for innovations that take the hassle out of healthcare are sizable. 

So why aren’t more marketers driving changes in the customer experience realm?

Well, I put forth a theory (or more) in an article “The CMO as Chief Innovation Catalyst” published last month in Healthcare Strategy Alert.   Perhaps it’s the historical view of marketing as promotions and sales.  Or the lack of shared accountability between marketing and operations for achieving growth objectives.  Or the fact that innovation runs counter to normal operating procedures (and most healthcare organizations are operations vs. market driven).  Or all of the above. 

Whatever the cause, transformation does not happen without innovation.  Where will the leadership for innovation come from?