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Communicating in the Age of Population Health

There has been much written about population health – what it means, what to do and what not to do. What’s true is that the health care needs of tomorrow’s population will not be met in hospitals alone and the financial paradigm for reimbursement has turned upside down – it’s now about value not volume.

So, with this new reality, the quest will ultimately rest on identifying the optimal positioning and right mix of messaging. It’s important to understand that as health care is transforming, so must it’s communications. From our perspective, here are 3 ways to transform you health care communications as we forge into the future of population health.

Ramp-Up Internal Engagement

Communication among the internal team should be direct, simple and ample. This is a very big job full of a lot of little steps. An important aspect of the communication will be to demonstrate how people across the entire enterprise are working together towards a common goal – everyone is on the patient care team, from front office to physicians to the patients themselves. It all starts with putting the patient first to understand their needs. Motivate this behavior by celebrating joint successes with the entire care team and providing easy channels for communication and collaboration. In addition to your EMR, collaborative intranet portals, internal newsletters, recurring cross-functional meetings and clear, top-down communication of leadership expectation all help foster and encourage team spirit.

Dive Deep into the Patient Journey

The purpose of ramping up internal engagement, of course, is so that all resources work together to improve your patient experience. Think of it as a journey of communication touch points. These include everyone and everything that comes in contact with your patients. It starts with your website, call center, appointment scheduling, actual visit exchange, materials distributed along the way and the follow-up experience. All of them need to enhance, engage and educate in one voice that allows for a two-way dialog and ultimately keeps patients out of your hospitals. The best way to achieve this is with a strong organizational mission and brand message that rings true and consistently throughout the patient journey, which requires active training of all members of the care team to achieve.

Focus Outside the Walls

Speaking of keeping patients out of your hospitals, communications and messages are transitioning from sickness to wellness. It is critical that health care marketers trade in some of the transactional messages about ER visits and treating health issues to long-term support of population health. To best reach patient prospects and engage in their wellness, you must reach them on their terms, right where they are. This will require some TLC to community relations’ initiatives and ensuring that efforts venture out into your markets instead of requiring your markets to come to you. Digital strategies are also paramount to making effective connections with the right people, where they are, when they need it. Some of the tactics that are vital include social platforms, mobile apps, video chats with docs, community events, school programs.

We believe by working together under a common goal and focusing communication efforts appropriately, health systems who act quickly can not just overcome, but thrive in the new age of population health.

Additional thoughts on population health you’d like to share? Want to discuss how your health system can take action? Post on the comments below or shoot me an email

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