Internal Communication Management System in a Hospital – An Introduction

Internal Communication Management System in a Hospital

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

November 4, 2012; November 5, 2012

Communication is the  imparting or exchange of information between a sender and a receiver.  It is a two way process aimed at mutual understanding of the information being imparted or exchanged.  However, in the ultimate analysis, it is the end or terminal objectives of the communication that count, whether they are achieved or not.  The terminal objectives of communication are usually information-learning addition, ideally to be accompanied by appropriate action and usage on the part of both the sender and the receiver, either for their own benefit or for the benefit of the other people or for an organization.

Communication in any organization like the hospital may be internal or external.

Internal communication is a communication between the individuals and groups involved in the internal workings of the hospital.  In contrast, external communication is any forms of communication that are geared towards target groups external to the hospital.

In this paper, I will dwell on internal communication management system in a hospital setting.

Put in another way, internal communication is for internal stakeholders of the hospital.  The internal stakeholders are those individuals or groups of involved in the internal workings of the hospitalsThese include the members of the Board of Directors (top management), senior management, middle management and all personnel, whether contractual or regular employees, and whether salaried or not.  Non-salaried physicians and other health care professionals accredited to practice medicine in the hospital are and should be considered as internal stakeholders.   

Internal communication management system of a hospital is a system in managing the internal communication in the hospital.  Internal communication management is an action plan on how to implement, evaluate and continually improve activities on internal communication based on formulated goals and objectives.

There are several types of internal communication in a hospital setting.  These are:

  • Corporate internal communication and non-corporate internal communication
  • Emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication and non-emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication
  • Specific types depending on objectives and contents of internal communication (management; operations; information; marketing; educational; issues; risk; etc.)

 

Corporate internal communication and non-corporate internal communication

Corporate internal communication is the message usually emanating from the top and senior management of the hospital intended for all or majority of its internal stakeholders.  A corporate internal communication can also emanate from the middle management and from the heads of project management if the communication is intended for all or majority of the internal stakeholders of the hospital. Usually, such kind of corporate internal communication has the approving and authorizing signatures of the top and senior management.

The corporate internal communication may be transmitted by a corporate communication unit, i.e., if there is one established in the hospital. If there is one, the unit takes charge of the corporate communication management system of the entire hospital, which includes both external and internal communication.  A corporate communication management is a system which enables the hospital to strategically orchestrate all its communication regardless of types.

Non-corporate internal communication is one that does not qualify under the descripiton of a corporate internal communication, particularly, on the span of intended receivers.  A communication from one department intended for another department or several but less than majority of the departments in the hospital is a non-corporate internal communication.  Likewise, a person-to-person formal internal communication is a non-corporate internal communication.

Emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication and non-emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication (or simply crisis internal communication and non-crisis internal communication)

Emergency-disaster-crisis communication are communication done and that have to be done in emergency, disaster, and crisis situations. In contrast, non-emergency-disaster-crisis communication are communication done outside emergency, disaster, and crisis situations.

Emergency is a sudden, unexpected actual or impending event requiring immediate action due to its potential threat to health, safety and environment (with risks of unwanted sickness, injury and loss of life); property (with risks of loss and destruction); and/or business operations (with risks of disruption and loss).

Disaster is a sudden unplanned event that causes great damage or serious loss to an organization resulting in an organization failing to provide critical business functions for some predetermined minimum period of time.

Crisis is a critical event that may impact an organization’s profitability, reputation, or ability to operate.

Emergency-disaster-crisis is a continuum that starts with emergency and may progress to disaster and crisis if not controlled at the emergency stage.

NOTE: to facilitate my discourse in this paper, I will use the shortened term of “crisis communication” to encompass and mean “emergency-disaster-crisis communication.”

Specific types depending on objectives and contents of internal communication

 

Management communication

Operations communication

Information communication

Marketing communication

Educational communication

Issues communication

Risk communication

 

Management communication are communication done between management and its internal audiences, particularly on policies and directives.

 

Operations communication are communication done to facilitate day-to-day operations of the hospital or its departments.

Information communication are communication done for purposes of information dissemination between and among the staff.

 

Marketing communication are communication done for purposes of marketing and enhancing the reputation of the hospital, such as advertisements and press releases, among the staff.

 

Educational communication are communication done for purposes of learning of staff.

 

Issues communication are communication done for purposes of brainstorming, discussion and exchanges of ideas and information among the staff.

 

Risk communication are communication on the existence, nature, and severity or acceptability of risks in the hospital aimed at changing behavior and inducing action to minimize or reduce the risks.

 

In all hospitals, a powerful internal communication management system must be in place to facilitate achievement of performance excellence, its foremost terminal objective.

The internal communication management system should cover the following general types of internal communication:

  • Corporate internal communication and non-corporate internal communication
  • Emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication and non-emergency-disaster-crisis internal communication
  • Specific types depending on objectives and contents of internal communication (management; operations; information; marketing; educational; issues; risk; etc.)

 

With the presence of overlaps among the general types of internal communication, for prioritization purposes and in consideration of what matters most, I recommend focusing on developing the following four internal communication system:

  1. Internal Communication for Performance Excellence of Hospital
  2. Operations Communication
  3. Corporate Communication for Hospital Staff
  4. Crisis Communication for Hospital Staff

Below, I will operationally differentiate the four internal communication which I recommend all hospitals prioritize.

The goal of the Internal Communication for Performance Excellence of Hospital consists of imparting and exchanging information to promote commitment, support, involvement and engagement of staff and to facilitate alignment, coordination, collaboration and integration of staff, services, projects and processes thereby achieving performance excellence for the hospital.

The goal of Operations Communication consists of imparting and exchanging of information to facilitate day-to-day operations of the hospital and its departments in order to render quality and safe services thereby achieving performance excellence for the hospital.

The goal of Corporate Communication for Hospital Staff consists of disseminating approved administrative policies and procedures and business development information to guide the majority, if not all, departments and staff of the hospital in achieving performance excellence for the hospital.  (Note: Corporate Communication can also be for external stakeholders.)

The goal of Crisis Communication for Hospital Staff consists of disseminating approved risk and crisis information to majority, if not all, departments and staff of the hospital to get their alignment, commitment, support and involvement in protecting the safety, security and integrity of the hospital and defending it when faced with a public challenge to its reputation.   (Note: Crisis Communication can also be for external stakeholders.)

In subsequent papers or writings, I will formulate a design and development program for each of the four types of internal communication which I recommend all hospitals should prioritize.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Internal Communication Management System in Hospitals. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s