Health Care Communications: An Internal View

It’s trite to say health care is always changing. That’s not a situation unique to that industry, and it wrongly implies health care was “unchanging” at some point in the past. A more accurate statement is, health care is always a humbling experience.

You know what I mean if you have had a hospital stay. You are beholden to whatever illness or injury has you in its grasp. Time is not yours to control. You need help constantly, often under the most embarrassing circumstances. You are sleepless and sore and underdressed and completely vulnerable.

Thankfully, you are surrounded by gifted, compassionate people who consider helping you to be their greatest calling — and if you do internal communications at a health care organization, your greatest calling is to serve and celebrate those people.

All of us at Beaumont Health must understand how our jobs support patient and family-centered care. That can be tough the further you are from the bedside. The Internal Communications team’s objective is to illustrate that connection through storytelling, with a goal of fostering employee engagement and strategic understanding as well.

A successful example of this approach is our “Rounding With” video series, which we created in partnership with our in-house video and graphics colleagues. The series features Beaumont’s CEO and senior executives talking with employees to hear how their work supports patients and families. Internal Communications identifies candidates from across the system, scripts the videos in collaboration with our Patient and Family-Centered Care team, and briefs the executives ahead of the shoot. They also promote each release via our internal channels. Through it all, we tie our strategic message into this slice of daily life, making the big picture easier to comprehend.

The Rounding With series has showcased a delightful range of employees, including an engineering tech in Grosse Pointe, the director of Royal Oak’s Bio Bank, and a K-9 security team in Dearborn. Our research has shown the videos have significantly increased all employees’ understanding of how they can positively impact patient and family-centered care. Our own team has found the project fun and rewarding, with executives thanking us for making it possible for them to connect with people they would never have met otherwise.

While your communications role at your organization may not have life-or-death stakes, the health care service mindset is useful, no matter what your industry:

  • Start with a particular audience in mind. Are you speaking to frontline employees, new managers or that disgruntled guy in the cafeteria line?
  • Identify what will be important for them to understand, do and believe.
  • Next, ask yourself what is in it for them: how can understanding, doing and believing help them do a better job and feel good about what they do?
  • Strive to find specific examples or stories to illustrate your message from the point of view of someone in your audience.
  • Finally, loop back with your audience to get their feedback and ideas for more stories, perhaps featuring them next time.

Lisa Peers is director of Internal Communications for Beaumont Health, based in Southfield. She currently serves on the PRSA Detroit Board and is liaison to the Ethics Committee.

 Photo: Pixabay