If communication was key before 2020, then communication is now mission critical for healthcare practices to instill patient and caregiver confidence in 2021.
Having a clear and consistent internal and external communication strategy has always been vitally important for a growing practice wanting to scale. The pandemic has not only caused collective fear, but skepticism in the way “things have always been done” when it comes to the delivery of healthcare. A steady, confident messaging strategy — like a rhythmic cadence — calms fears and generates trust where there is uncertainty and worry.
Your community, as a whole, is now hungry for this messaging like never before. It is your time to deliver and rise above the practices that choose to go silent and “ride out” the crisis. Patients and caregivers will be drawn to a commanding voice that doesn’t necessarily have all of the answers, but shares an ongoing message of empathy, understanding, and reassurance.
4 Essential Elements to an Effective Healthcare Communications Strategy
While developing your communications strategy for 2021, consider the following important elements to include in your messaging:
2020 was an emotional marathon. A good messaging strategy will address that, both to your team members and to the community. Your internal comms should address team member fatigue, mental health, emotional and physical well-being, and genuine appreciation for what they go through in their day-to-days. External comms need to embrace the 2020 human experience with compassion while delivering a message of encouragement and conviction that your practice is ready to take on what 2021 brings.
There is no playbook for what healthcare organizations are going through right now. That said, there have been industry fluctuations that your organization has already experienced, so resilience and adaptability is already part of your practice’s repertoire. No one with a shred of sensibility expects your practice to have all of the answers, but a confident message that addresses the past, envisions the future, and articulates how your practice is currently navigating the evolution of healthcare will assert your industry knowledge and your organization’s sustainability.
Weaving both empathy and confidence into your messaging won’t necessarily create a sense of genuineness. Be true to your brand and share your core values as they pertain to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Know your practice’s voice and share it with sincerity — every time.
Regularity indicates reliability. Like the rhythmic cadence referenced above, steady, consistent communication will build confidence and trust in your practice. It’s that simple, but it requires dedication, resources, and planning.
Successful Communications Strategies in 2021
Think about communication in its simplest forms. If you have a lunch appointment with someone and they haven’t arrived a few minutes after the scheduled time, you would be skeptical that they remembered the meeting. A quick incoming text that says “I’m running 5 minutes late. Will be there soon!” is reassuring and gives you confidence that your associate will show up.
Silence breeds skepticism. Communication instills confidence.
You may have heard of the “Kellogg vs. Post” story during the Great Depression. Post chose to rein in its marketing and communications during the economic crisis, and Kellogg doubled down, resulting in Kellogg’s market dominance in the ready-to-eat cereal industry to present day.
Many healthcare organizations are scrambling to cut expenses and reappropriate the usual annual budgetary assignments to adapt to new demands in patient care and technology updates. Rather than reining in communications, healthcare organizations should focus, more than ever, on openly sharing changes and updates. Doing so will clearly set patient and caregiver expectations, while keeping the practice top-of-mind and creating a sense of stability both internally within the organization, and outwardly to the community.
Caregivers want to work for an organization that they feel has longevity. Patients want to receive care from an organization that makes them feel reassured. A clear communications strategy will address both, and much more.
The Symphony Agency Can Help
At The Symphony Agency, we have a team of experienced consultants and marketers who can help you design a successful communications plan. We’ve won several national eHealthcare Leadership Awards and host The Healthcare CEO podcast — designed to discuss the challenges and opportunities for executives in the healthcare space.
Contact us or email your success manager to talk about creating a custom plan that’s best for your company.