When we talk about communication strategies in healthcare, people often focus on how health systems communicate with patients. While patient communications are critical, employee relations in healthcare are reaching a breaking point. Retention is down. Financial strains are up. More healthcare workers are striking. Healthcare companies need their employee communication efforts to step up.
What Are Communication Strategies in Healthcare?
Healthcare communication strategies are a set of deliberate and coordinated efforts to share information and resources with their target audiences: healthcare professionals, administrative staff, patients, and other stakeholders within their health system.
Having a strong communication strategy is critical to ensuring that employees are supported in doing their jobs and providing excellent patient care.
This includes strategies for:
- Internal Communication. The communications sent specifically to employees (full time and contract) within a health system. This includes regular operational messages as well as crisis and unplanned communications.
- Patient Communication. A pillar of the patient experience is the communication they receive before, during, and after receiving care. This is often facilitated through a patient portal and in-person communications with your staff.
- Stakeholder Communication. Healthcare companies have to collaborate with other stakeholders, such as government agencies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and their community partners.
3 Barriers to Great Communication in Healthcare
Although healthcare systems have to also communicate with patients and stakeholders, at theEMPLOYEEapp, we’re experts in employee communication. So, we’re going to focus on the top challenges healthcare companies face communicating internally.
1. Employee Burnout.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to extreme pressures being put on healthcare employees. And it hasn’t really let up.
Information overload and staffing shortages are leading to employees feeling burnt out. And this isn’t just impacting your nurses and residents. Burnout trouble is even hitting the executive suite of health systems.
This means it’s harder than ever to break through the noise and get the attention of your healthcare teams. Our communications have to be efficient, targeted, and meaningful. If they aren’t, we risk adding to the noise and increasing the strain on our already stressed and overworked employees.
2. Diverse and Distributed Workforce
Healthcare systems employ a diverse workforce that includes clinicians, administrative staff, support personnel, and often contract workers.
Each group has its own communication needs and preferences.
For instance, clinical staff may require real-time updates on patient conditions, while administrative staff may need information on administrative processes and policies.
Effective communication must cater to this diversity, ensuring that all employees receive relevant and timely information for their role.
3. Technology Evolution
Technology advancements could revolutionize the healthcare industry. Not evolving with modern tools can spell disaster.
While there is a multitude of tools and technologies available for improving medicine itself, there’s also a communications technology evolution that you might be missing out on.
How you communicate and connect with employees needs to keep up with modern technology and employee expectations. In our daily lives, we’re all used to having technology work for us. It’s easy. Streamlined. And accessible 24/7.
4 Employee Communication Strategies for the Future of Healthcare
So, how do we update our internal communication strategies to more effectively reach our healthcare staff?
- Tap into the voice of your people. Communication has to evolve to include more voices. We can’t just rely on top-down communication for everything. We need to actively listen to our employees to get their feedback, understand their concerns, and to tell their stories. That means investing in more employee surveys, focus groups, and open-feedback forums (e.g. suggestion boxes).
- Better segmentation. Since healthcare staff are already overwhelmed, we have to simplify things for them. And that starts with better targeting of our messages. Nurses, physicians, and non-clinical staff all need different information to do their jobs. They shouldn’t have to sift through memos not intended for them.
- Sometimes less is more. In recent years, there’s been a big push to communicate more recognition, more stories, and generally make internal comms more fun. But for busy and stressed workers, this just feels like noise. It especially feels like noise if it’s shared on “push” channels where messages come with a notification. It’s still important to communicate your values and culture, but we have to be mindful that more messages isn’t necessarily better.
- Get to the root of the issue. Healthcare companies are dealing with big challenges right now. Staffing shortages. Financial strain. Burnout and turnover. It doesn’t help to ignore the issues. You have to address them in your communication plans and show your employees you genuinely care about finding solutions.
Tools for Healthcare Communication
Like we mentioned, it’s important to keep your communication tech stack up to date so you can implement your internal communication plans.
That might mean it’s time to audit your existing communication channels to find where your weaknesses are.
It might also be time to improve your mobile-first communication channels. Or to consider an intranet overhaul.
And it might mean investing in employee survey tools, video creation software, or other technologies that help bring your strategy to life.
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