Medical care providers rely on different types of health communications when they interact with consumers. As healthcare costs escalate, patients demand information that is timely, accurate and sensitive. Likewise, medical professionals expect tangible results from their marketing campaigns that have grown more aggressive because of cutting-edge competition. Communication tools have become agents of change, such as patient feedback leading to service improvements or brochures promoting healthier lifestyle choices.
Face-to-face talks between a doctor and patient require specific communication skills, especially during delivery of bad news, according to a 2008 study through the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research that was published by the "Journal of Clinical Oncology." A patient's ability to recall information drops significantly when the report is negative. Some doctors use "chunking and checking," Modern Medicine reports: The physician relays the information and then asks questions to determine whether the patient comprehends the news.
Effective prevention and control of disease involves more than fact-filled brochures and websites, says the National Cancer Institute. Instead, content must be based upon research that defines the problem, the audience and the best channels to reach that group. A successful campaign influences public behavior so that consumers take ownership of their wellness. For example, mass mailings to women that promote discounted mammograms increase a respondent's chances of early detection of breast cancer.
Medical facilities face fierce pressure to retain patients and attract new people. One crucial factor to selling healthcare is capturing and promoting the patient experience, according to the Health Care Success Strategies website. Customer satisfaction surveys ask patients for candid responses so that medical personnel can improve the quality of their services. In addition to implementing changes, healthcare providers publicize the areas where they received high ratings from their patients, with the hopes of drawing new customers into their practices.
Crisis communication in the healthcare industry makes or breaks an organization's reputation within the community, says the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota. The center's online communication toolkit advises each medical facility to draft an emergency readiness program that designates a chief spokesperson and dedicated website during a crisis. These health communications require an authoritative and compassionate tone. Trust is paramount in holding a community together during anxious times, and authorities should admit when they do not know something.
- "Journal of Clinical Oncology"; Does Age Really Matter?; Jesse Jansen et al.; November 2008
- National Cancer Institute: Making Health Communication Programs Work
- Health Care Success Strategies; What is a Health Care Marketing Plan?; Stewart Gandolf and Lonnie Hirsch; 2010
- Center for Rural Health: Communication Toolkit -- Crisis Communication; September 2008