The Role of Communication in Creating Successful Healthcare Partnerships
As healthcare organizations, systems and networks focus on providing a continuum of care in primary care services, acute in-patient care and post-hospital care, new partnerships and relationships are formed. The internal communication function is critical to the successful management, adoption and integration of these partnerships, ensuring consistent and clear communication internally across all partner organizations to all employees in the organization.
New partnerships are on the rise in healthcare, at the same time as the industry shifts from a volume-based model that paid for every medical procedure to a value-based model that focuses on patient outcomes and cost reductions.
Traditional ways of doing business in the healthcare arena are fast becoming obsolete, and organizations are escalating the search for partnerships to augment what they can bring to the table, and to maintain stability in the turbulent healthcare marketplace.
These new partnerships may be initiated by the organization acting alone, or as a joint venture with another group, or through shared services and contracts. Examples of these emerging partnerships include:
- Insurers acquire hospital health systems and physician groups
- Providers gain a stake in hospitals and insurers
- Provider acquisitions which extend the care continuum
- Super-regional health systems, regional systems and locally-focused hospital systems
- For-profit and not-for-profit joint ventures
- Strategic partnerships between independent health organizations
- Partnerships to expand market reach (e.g. Mayo Clinic, which has a new alliance with Apple and has dozens of partners across the country)
- Affiliated support services (e.g. senior care, palliative care and coaching)
- Partnerships between healthcare organizations and community nonprofits that integrate Medicaid and Medicare benefits and provide community benefit
Internal communicators in the healthcare industry are tasked with
- communicating the need for the change and the benefits of the partnership
- facilitating two-way communication between staff across all levels and roles
- assessing and reporting on progress
- personalizing the information so that it is relevant to each recipient and
- managing the channels and campaigns involved in the change
Healthcare internal audiences are busy, often on the move, and use a variety of different devices to access information. As new partnerships are implemented, internal communications must coordinate with the partner organization, and develop a plan and a calendar to deliver just enough information to diverse staff to encourage buy-in to the changes that will follow.
This 6-step checklist reflects the best practice advice from Internal Communication professionals:
- Set objectives for your communications. Set out clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your communication from the outset, so that you can measure your progress and outcomes against them.
- Understand the role and merit of each communication tool available to you. Use multiple channels to provide the appropriate or most effective touch points for information.
- Understand your audience. Segment your employee lists so your communications are more targeted and relevant.
- Test and optimize to increase engagement. Test formats, titles, headlines, bullets, calls to action, and authors, to see which work the best.
- Look for insights and measurement. Look at engagement levels, and keep an eye on where communication goes awry, so you can change an approach that does not work well, and respond quickly to resistance and concerns.
- Share your results. Demonstrate the impact of your communications on staff engagement and acceptance of the partnership.
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