SEAMLESS COORDINATION is important in any organization, but it’s life and death for health networks racing 24/7 to deliver positive outcomes. How can diverse employees in a wide range of disciplines provide the same great branded care across hospitals, research centers, physician practices and community programs? Here are five ways internal communications can help, as shown by innovative institutions nationwide.
1. Redrawing the Big Picture. Healthcare has traditionally emphasized medical outcomes, portraying the patient experience in terms of interactions with doctors and nurses. Today’s top brands, however, bring a patient’s perspective to all the touch points that can shape a negative or positive experience: scheduling, physical environment, response to patient concerns, clarity of explanations and many more. The result is a true service model that is caregiver-centric rather than doctor-centric. So all employees have a part to play in patient satisfaction and the consumer ratings that now mean so much in today’s marketplace.
2. Boosting Engagement. Over a five-year period the Cleveland Clinic raised its federal CMS rankings from the 55th percentile to the 92nd percentile, in part due to sweeping employee engagement measures. Randomized small-group exercises among the clinic’s 43,000 employees brought everyone from surgeons to housekeepers together, so they could share ideas and understand the role each caregiver played in a seamless patient experience. These insights, combined with employee recognition programs and vigorous engagement strategies by management, created a workplace where caregivers at all levels were more likely to collaborate, work through challenges and offer proactive suggestions and comments.
3. Empowering Managers. Gallup research indicates that frontline managers and supervisors can affect staff engagement as much as 70%. At UTMB Health in Galveston, Texas, employee requests for more supervisor face time were addressed with a communications overhaul that established 15-minute all-hands meetings as the core of a four-channel internal comms program. “Relay leaders” passed along strategic announcements and talking points each week in addition to discussing workplace issues, aided by template-based news digests and tools such as videoconferencing that allowed remote participation without time lost in transit.
4. Streamlining Information. Many healthcare workers are bombarded with more data than they can handle; others are too busy providing bedside care or working late shifts to get any at all. One answer is to send less email and convey big-picture updates face-to-face, in the form of “reverse town halls” or rounding that brings leaders and supervisors to employees. Communicators are also using staff feedback to refine their tactics – identifying time-sensitive content that should be shared earlier, prioritizing action items or department news, or expanding their toolkits to use video and new visually-oriented screensaver alerts, information tickers and popups that quickly convey information on a wide range of workplace or mobile devices.
5. Centralizing Knowledge. With digital content increasingly important for employee support, education and brand awareness, Mayo Medical Laboratories created Insights, an online hub where Mayo Clinic professionals can access research, learn about health issues, stay abreast of industry topics and keep up with staff news. Equally important, Insights is specifically designed to consolidate knowledge as the center of Mayo Clinic’s “marketing solar system,” aggregating traffic from all of Mayo Clinic’s other digital tools to provide a landmark resource that is familiar to everyone.
As health networks strive to meet demanding consumers on their terms, it’s becoming clear that cutting-edge medical and information technology can only do so much. For truly great patient experiences, better communication is what makes a healthy difference. | DC |