If there’s one thing that is constant in the healthcare industry, is that it’s constantly evolving.
Change has become the norm. With healthcare reform, MACRA, the switch from fee-for-service to value-based care, etc., healthcare providers are faced with adopting technology to comply not only with federal regulations, but to stay relevant and ahead of the curve in this new era where the patient has become a consumer.
As marketers, we are always concerned with getting the message out to our target audience, and in the case of a healthcare provider, that’s the patient. But what about the large number of employees – doctors, clinicians, nurses, radiologists, medical assistants, etc. etc. who are often the very people who have to help these patients adapt to the technology changes? You must have an internal corporate communication strategy.
Basically, if you don’t have buy-in from your internal staff when it comes to healthcare IT improvements, upgrades and/or any other changes or new initiatives, your external communication will be lined up to fail.
According to the Institute of Internal Communication, “organizations have realized that a disconnect can quickly occur between the promises of promotional activity and what is actually experienced by customers if employees are not clear about what they are supposed to be doing or completely behind it.”
A few years back, Aloft was engaged by a health system, which consisted of 3 hospitals, a Visiting Nurse Association and several physician groups and specialty practices (totaling over 7,500 employees) — all of whom were on disparate electronic health records (EHRs) — to help them internally communicate their switch to a single, system-wide upgraded EHR.
As part of the process, we recommended setting up an internal communications microsite to act as a repository for all things associated with the EHR switch — blogs, go-live updates, timelines, and FAQs. If there was any question associated with the migration to this new EHR, employees became accustomed to visiting the microsite for answers. Any communication that was created as part of this process was filled with hyperlinks directing them to this site.
Google Analytics proved that the microsite was paramount to internal communications as traffic steadily increased as each Go-Live milestone was reached and employees knew this was the go-to hub of information. More importantly, when the new EHR was live, they were invested and informed, and knew how to communicate the change to their patients, who were also affected.
Important takeaways from this example can be applied to any organization who might overlook the importance of an internal corporate communication strategy as part of a change:
- Use a variety of communications vehicles: Some people enjoy reading their email, while others are overwhelmed by email and would rather get an abridged snippet in a weekly employee e-newsletter. There are those that enjoy a conversational blog. Some would rather watch an easily digestible video, while others would rather take control and peruse a microsite at their own speed. The point is, don’t be one-sided when you communicate internally.
- Develop an internal communications team: This doesn’t mean people on the team are from marketing, but rather they represent a variety of departments company-wide that will be affected by the change you are making. After all, only these people will know what their constituents need to hear to develop effective internal messaging.
- Be responsive: Employees are going to have questions when it comes to change. Keep adding FAQs to the microsite as more questions arise. If they respond to a blog in a comment, respond back. Create appropriate communications vehicles based on employee response. The more engaged an employee feels, the more empowered they will be when the change takes place.
What changes do you have planned for the future? Whether it’s a technology conversion or some other significant change, be sure you make internal communications a key element of your overall strategy. Not only will your employees appreciate the gesture, but your target external audience will benefit as a result, and that can only positively affect your long term bottom line.