Communication is More Than a Communication

I was having a discussion with the senior most sister-leader at Ministry Health Care regarding effective communication.  I had been thinking of communication in only a very concrete sense but she reminded me communication is also about process and organization.

As Executive Sponsor of the EHR, I spend about 25% of my time doing heads down work, the other 75% is dedicated primarily to communication.  Here is a partial list of my communication efforts:

  • Travel at least a thousand miles a month in central and northern Wisconsin
  • Conduct in-person presentations to 20 or more groups of clinicians, staff or administrators  every month
  • Present to each regional and campus administrative team quarterly
  • Participate in countless virtual meetings (both via telephone and WebEx)
  • Send out a monthly e-mail update to all clinicians and respond personally to every question posed by clinicians and staff
  • Post all previous updates and FAQ on an intranet site
  • Present at any clinician meeting when requested to
  • Present at regional clinician meetings
  • Spend time in various doctor lounges in our hospitals to seek opinions and answer questions
  • Include EHR updates in local, regional and system newsletters

Even with these efforts, 6% of our surveyed clinicians (see the previous post Survey Your Clinicians and Staff) believe our communication is poor and another 20% are neutral.  As I was trying to find additional ways to communicate with our clinicians, Sister reminded me communication is not just a piece of communication, it is also process and organization. How your organization engages clinicians and seeks input going both up and down the organizational structure will have an impact on effective communication. We are about to transition from planning to design of our EHR.  As we engage more and more clinicians, it will be interesting to see if our communication is judged to be more effective.

One of the benefits of attending the Physician Executive MBA Program at the University of Tennessee, is the opportunity to participate in an individualized Leadership Development Program. As part of my LDP, I will be spending some time learning how to use organizational process and change management to improve communication.  Stay tuned.

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One Response to “Communication is More Than a Communication”

  1. jairy hunter Says:

    I created a password protected blog to post meeting updates for those who missed it (and those present to refer back to), post stickies (the schedule, policies, lists, etc.), and there is space for commentary (although I’m often tempted to edit, censor, or respond/defend). I also post “numbers” and data when relevant. They can refer to it in the middle of the night, in the ER or anywhere there is a connection.

    It seems to be working fairly well, although they call me and ask the site address and password frequently, and “oh by the way while I have you on the phone,” go ahead and ask their question….which obviates the need for the blog.

    Just getting everyone on board with communication is a real challenge, considering they have all these ways to keep in touch (phone, pager, blackberry, web, blogs, etc.) and they get to choose which to use or not use. People like you and me have to be available to all of them.

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