3 Takeaways from an EHR Internal Communications Strategy

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , November 2, 2011

Become a “relationship manager”

During the OneCare rollout, CHI selected marketing staffers as relationship managers to pair with key stakeholders, to provide updates and solicit their feedback. The second part of the relationship manager role is to report back to the OneCare communications leadership with stakeholders’ concerns, so that they can adjust messages as needed.

At smaller organizations, the head marketer can take on the role of relationship manager. This action will help the marketing team take the pulse of employees’ response to the message they’re putting out and tailor that message if necessary. This can be done through regular conversations with managers about the internal communications campaign or a brief survey to key employee groups asking if they understand and feel positively about the message.

Focus on physician relations

At CHI, as with many healthcare organizations, disseminating information to physicians can be precarious. CHI marketing leaders determined that physicians were the most difficult segment to message because of a lack of communications infrastructure and vehicles and because physicians are typically trained for individual achievement and solitary work, with others assisting.

To get past this obstacle, marketing leaders began building relationship management structures at each hospital, identifying and engaging key physician influencers and opinion leaders. By soliciting those individuals’ help, CHI leadership was able to win physician support of the OneCare EHR.

This strategy, too, is one that organizations of any size can implement. Physician champions are a hospital marketer’s best friend, whether you’re rolling out a system-wide initiative or simply need someone to take a clinical eye to advertising copy.

It may be tempting to approach internal communications as you would traditional external marketing, by crafting a message and determining the marketing mix for the target audience. But getting buy-in from internal groups can be much more complex, not only because of organizational politics but also because your internal stakeholders are your best brand advocate. Informed and empowered executives, clinicians, and staff are much more likely to provide a positive patient experience than if they’re hit with one blanket marketing message—or worse, kept in the dark.


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