Video: Ideal Health on the importance of communications in digital transformation

The Ideal Health team joined HTN Now Focus to share a live presentation about the importance of communications in delivering successful digital transformation in healthcare.

Gaelle Fertil, Ideal’s Change Practice Director, and Andrea Wilson, Change Communications Consultant, shared their strategies on utilising comms to enable change.

Gaelle began the session by sharing the digital healthcare consultancy’s thoughts on the Prosci ADKAR Model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement), which underpins Ideal’s own approach to change interventions.

“We all know that effective communication and engagement is critical to any change programme. I don’t think that’s news to anybody – but really, what does that mean in practice? And how do we make that happen?”, Gaelle asked.

“The ADKAR Model looks at effecting change on an individual level, in order to support team and organisational change. It looks at the fact that change is human, and we need to think about the individual before we can really affect change on a wider scale…it talks about understanding and managing individual change and breaks down the different elements of a programme into a cycle called ADKAR.”

On the methodology, she said: “It works really well in reminding us how we support people and first raise awareness of a change, then increase their desire and the knowledge of the change, finishing off with ability and then usually, in a post-go-live world, we talk about reinforcing that change.”

Gaelle then passed over the baton to Andrea, who specialises in change communications, to discuss the Ideal strategy further, as well as other areas such as planning and evaluation.

“When you’re starting a big programme, you really need to develop a comms and engagement strategy at the very beginning. It’s built upon a number of elements – the objectives that the strategy is seeking to achieve, the guiding principles of the programme, the use of frameworks like ADKAR, and also taking learning from other organisations. A lot of organisations have gone through change and using best practice from them is a really good idea,” Andrea explained, before moving onto implementation and delivery.

In this area, Andrea added: “There are a lot of different elements to think about – one of the things people always say to me is, ‘can I have a comms plan?’…but there is so much more involved before you get to that stage. It’s about trying to understand everything that needs to come together, when you’re pulling together your comms and engagement strategy.”

Key messages, a strong narrative, a robust stakeholder map, deciding on the best mix of communications channels, a branding and style guide, governance, and evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact and effectiveness of activities, were all important aspects mentioned.

“I always hold early workshops involving lots of people to get the comms strategy off the ground because agreeing your key messages early on and agreeing your key stakeholder groups is really important. That is your foundation for getting the comms going…the important thing is who is going to deliver the comms messages because that shouldn’t be me or the comms team. Your influencers should be leading on your communications,” she said.

When considering stakeholders and getting the messages out, Andrea also provided the tip to consider external organisations such as other hospitals, GPs, MPs, patients, and anybody else who may have an interest in the change. “It’s really important you include them,” she commented, as well as highlighting that the programme teams themselves can often be overlooked. Other advice included early identification of stakeholder leads, focusing on groups that may need extra support, such as administration teams and working closely with super users.

Gaelle then stepped in to share a map of stakeholder engagement, illustrating how to divide up the groups of people who need to be kept satisfied, actively engaged, and informed, and those who needed to be monitored.

In terms of the narrative around the case for change, Andrea said: “It’s important that we have this articulated rationale so that people can feel excited…define the change using the ‘five Ws’ – why is something changing? what’s happening? how is it changing? who is it impacting? when is it happening? It’s important that managers can tell the story of this change. They need to own this story and articulate it.”

As advice, Andrea suggested starting off with a ‘short lift conversation’ to explain the benefits, followed by a five-minute catch-up chat or a 10-minute chat for those heavily involved, followed by a review. Using senior clinical colleagues as key communicators, introducing videos and animations to bring change to life, celebrating staff stories and successes, using virtual platforms for people to ask questions, using feedback, and having a countdown calendar and a comms toolkit, were among the other top tips.

“One of the things I always try and impart on everyone in the programme, from the very start, is that communication is everybody’s responsibility,” added Gaelle, “it is not physically possible for the comms team to manage every single communication that comes out of the programme.”

The team also covered different communication channels and using the full channel mix – whether that be face-to-face meetings at team meetings, town halls or drop-in sessions, online tools such as social media, groups, websites, and emails, or even print communications like leaflets, posters, banners, and briefing packs.

On creating a cycle of communication, Andrea stated, “It’s really important that, in the middle of it all, the comms and programme team are together and saying, ‘what do we need to include in the monthly newsletter – is there anything urgent we need to get out there? what is the messaging?’ Sometimes the cycle disconnects but everyone needs to work to ensure it  comes back together.”

To sum up, Andrea shared a checklist to guide the audience, and concluded, “What I’d want to get across from this is that the communication approach needs to be at the heart of the programme. I think the mistake that is sometimes made, when I’ve been involved with programmes, is that comms sits somewhere else and isn’t actually at the heart of it all. As Gaelle said, everybody is a communicator, and everybody has a responsibility to communicate. It’s really valuable, actually, if everybody is involved and taking the lead on communication.”

To find out more about Ideal and watch the session in full, click on the video below: