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Posted on 07.31.2013

Breaking Through the Noise: Secrets of Successful Hospital Internal Communication

It's no secret hospitals have a lot on their plates these days. From the adoption of electronic health records and the transition to ICD-10 to the uptick in mergers and acquisitions, the need to effectively communicate with employees and physicians has never been greater.

Unfortunately, neither has the noise level. Gone are the days when employee newsletters Hospital Internal Communicationsand town hall meetings were the only tools a hospital communicator needed in her arsenal. Today's caregivers are being asked to do more than ever before. With stretched attention spans and competing initiatives, it takes creativity - and persistence - to make an impression. Here are six tips for making sure your message not only lands, but is heard loud and clear.

  1. One size doesn't fit all. Today's hospital workforce is more diverse than ever before. Multiple generations work side by side. Some employees sit at a desk all day while others rarely sit at all. The wide variety of roles within a single organization alone requires communicators to take stock of their audiences and find unique communication vehicles to reach each one. While email may be tried and true for some, it won't likely do the trick for busy nurses. Consider using break-room posters, videos, screensavers, text messaging and stand-alone websites accessible from home or mobile devices to share information with harder-to-reach employees.

  2. Managers are make-or-break. Studies show that employees are more likely to retain information when it's shared by their manager. However, organizations often fail to give managers the tools they need to be truly effective communicators. Take the time to educate your managers on the issue and answer their questions before charging them with cascading information. Don't forget to establish a feedback loop to gather information on how messages were received and answer follow-up questions.

  3. Keep it conversational. There's no doubt social media is changing the way we communicate - even when using more traditional platforms. Messages are becoming shorter and more conversational and organizations are becoming increasingly transparent. Embrace these trends when establishing messages around internal initiatives. Most employees won't need to know the nitty gritty details of your new bar code scanning system, but they will want to know what it does and why you've adopted it. Keep your messages simple and informal. Nix the jargon, lean on graphics and make it fun.

  4. Can you hear me now? With all of the demands on today's nurses and physicians, don't assume your communication landed. Similar to external marketing campaigns, repetition of key messages using multiple channels is key to audiences retaining it. One report shows that nearly 60 percent of respondents will believe information if they hear it three to five times.

  5. Got message? While frequency is important - don't make the mistake of communicating just to check a box. Make sure you have something to say. Otherwise, employees will tune you out and recapturing their attention becomes even more of a challenge.

  6. Measure. Measure. Measure. An internal campaign should have the same measurement component as your external campaigns. Establish baseline awareness and set measurable targets to gauge progress before you begin communicating. Use giveaways or other incentives to drive website traffic or event attendance and monitor website or Intranet traffic and email click-throughs. Also consider using annual tools like performance reviews or employee surveys to measure retention and understanding of key information.

Done right, internal communications can be immensely challenging - and intensely rewarding. Do you have success stories to share?


Rebecca Kirkham is the Senior Vice President at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Rebecca’s blogs here. Connect with Rebecca at Rebecca@lovell.com

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