Institution & Physicians Communication
Effective Communication in the Hospital
We are transforming processes, rebuilding infrastructure, creating a better experience to patients through integration and taking better care of physicians (research and teaching incentives, anti-burnout programs). A strategic planning was developed in 2015 and included 100 people among them 54 medical leaders from all specialties. All 400+ projects in 12 Programs are linked to that strategic planning written by the leaders of the institution but some think that administration is playing against doctors/patients. Physicians don’t feel they are part of the change and they complain that they don’t know a lot about the projects. We have leadership monthly meetings, reports sent on emails and intranet webpage but none of that reach all 750 physicians and we still have people that no nothing about it. Very Frequently we need to send people a relevant message but emails and website does not work well. How can we effectively communicate with doctors in the hospital? How can we make the specialty leaders communicate better with their teams? How can we effectively engage physicians to lead the change?
Participant comments on Institution & Physicians Communication
We have found that our physicians get flooded with email and, as a results, tend to see it as a noisy channel that they avoid when they can. We are working to design a process that splits the communication strategy and improves targeting of information. Our goal is to have only critical communications go through email (push strategy) while information communication is posted to an internal web-site that serves as an organizational newspaper. By organization this site carefully, it can allow users to navigate to just the information they want. It also creates a permeant repository which can be easier to search/navigate than an email inbox/archive.
We have also found that, since our physicians are on staff at a number of different system hospitals, they get flooded with redundant messages. We are working with moving some of these communications to the corporate structure to avoid this redundancy.
It is important to take in account that the overuse of email are not the best way to communicate with physicians, in our days we get tons of e mails and perhaps they loose the importance that some may have. I suggest that with physicians the best way to communicate is to establish a calendar for periodic meetings with themes of their interest such as: benefit updates, clinical outcomes based on their own practice, feedback on research results and take the advantage of their presence to discuss management aspects , new programs, incentive programs, strategic planning. During the first stage it is ideal to invite if possible formally and on one to one basis to social events , in my experience , one way to assure their assistance to the first contacts is to to invite to celebrate their birthday in a monthly basis and a well known and classy restaurant . Once their attention is caught, the information is shared and the communication goals are achieved.
In this time of communication overload (and in some physicians case – work overload) it will be very difficult to effectively communicate over email, mailers etc. A Differentiation strategy has to be put in place. Like an Internal Ad campaign. which catches the attention of the target audience. Animation, Videos, testimonials … act-outs, whatever works better.
Also, consider a standard distribution curve. You need to locate your initiators. once you get the nose in, the body and tail will follow.
First of all it’s a good thing that you’ve defined a strategic plan where to head as an organization. The problem you describe is not only about communication, but also about the execution of the plan. It seems to me that the execution is also top-down. And 400+ projects is a lot, there is no way that people who try to do their daily job are keeping up with that.
I would reconsider the approach. You can use the 12 themes and the defined projects as ‘a menu’ and ask the departments which themes and within the theme which projects they think are applicable for them. Sort of asking them to subscribe. Projects that no one subscribes can be put on hold, this gives also an overview on which topics the ‘energy of the organization’ is good. Next step then is to define with the departments that subscribed an execution plan.
Ofcourse I understand that it might be hard for your organization to redefine the approach, but you have to rethink buy-in from the ‘regular physicians’ or the transition will be really difficult.
You can never communicate enough. From my personal experience, I have always tried to communicate with people in face-to-face meetings such as town hall meetings, presentations, large discussions groups. What is very important though is that there is always that is closer to their hearts and something that is important to you. You can send e-mails in advance to ask the people about what they would like to include in the agenda and then select the topics according to their responses.
Go to their staff meetings where the rank and file are likely to attend. Then offer information on only the most relevant projects/initiatives to that department.
In other industries, there are organized, coordinated “internal” marketing plans that specifically target a company’s own employees. Resources similar to those used to attract the attention and interest of the external, consumer market are utilized to convey messages to and win the understanding and buy-in of a company’s own employees. It might be useful for health care to look at other non-health care companies and adopt some of their strategies to communicate with physician and other employees.
Our institution has the same problem. We have found that email is not effective, but two things that have worked well for us include: regularly attending various department meetings, and offering less formal opportunities to talk about work issues (without agendas) such as “breakfasts with the department heads”.