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Spectrum
Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development®

March/April 2017

S T R AT E G Y

Virtual Health, Retail Visits, and
Other 2.0 Strategies in a World of
Disruptive Innovations
Hospitals and health systems across the country are
building, buying, and partnering with “disruptive
innovators” to redefine the patient experience.
By Christi McCarren, RN

Imagine a world where your smart phone—and a nurse
connected to it—can determine the level of care you need for a
health concern before ever leaving the house. Or envision an

urgent care visit where, upon your arrival, you are registered in
the time it takes to walk to the exam room—and are out the door
in less than an hour.
While healthcare providers have been adjusting to the realities of
consumerism through transparency initiatives and pricing strategies, MultiCare Health System in Washington state is meeting
the challenge through disruptive innovations that add location,
access, and lifestyle to the mix. In 2014, MultiCare’s leadership
recognized that the place where care is delivered would be the most
(Continued on next page)

Society for Healthcare
Strategy & Market
Development ®
President
Ruth Portacci
Principal
Healthcare Strategy Partners, Inc.
Nashville, TN
President-Elect
Ben Dillon
Chief Strategy Officer
Geonetric, Inc.
Cedar Rapids, IA
Immediate Past President
Larry Margolis
Managing Partner
SPM Marketing & Communications
LaGrange, IL
Executive Director
Diane Weber, RN
Society for Healthcare Strategy &
Market Development
Chicago, IL
Editor
Brian Griffin
Society for Healthcare Strategy &
Market Development
Chicago, IL
Editorial Associate
Ann Metz
Design and Layout

The Spectrum bimonthly newsletter is a membership
benefit of the Society for Healthcare Strategy &
Market Development®. If you are interested in
submitting an article, please contact Brian Griffin at:
E-mail: briangriffin@aha.org
Phone: (312) 422-3736
The editorial office is located at:
155 North Wacker, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60606
Opinions expressed in these articles are those
of the authors and do not necessarily reflect
the opinions of SHSMD or the American Hospital
Association.
©2017, Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market
Development. Reprinting or copying is prohibited
without express consent from SHSMD.

2 Spectrum | March/April 2017

Disruptive Innovations
(continued from page 1)

A Menu of Healthcare
Options for Every Lifestyle
Retail healthcare is defined as engaging dicritical differentiator in a highly competitive
rectly with consumers for healthcare-related
market. That same year, MultiCare estabproducts and services in a price sensitive
lished the goal of being “better connected”
environment. MultiCare’s four retail chanto patients by touching 1.3 million unique
nels have different price points and varying
individuals by 2020. Its baseline of 294,000
user experiences. Consumers can choose the
lives left much room for growth. The syslevel of care and convenience they want at a
tem’s specific strategy has been dubbed “First
price affordable for them.
Touch.”
For instance, Indigo and RediClinics offer
MultiCare’s First Touch strategy has been
walk-in visits and are much quicker than
the impetus for creating a variety of healthtraditional doctor appointments. They are
care access points that go far beyond the
also considerably cheaper than a primary
hospital or emergency department to reach
care visit. The Indigo clinics offer more serpatients where they live, work, and shop.
vices, diagnostic tools, and visits with a phyThese retail and virtual health channels
sician, while the RediClinics are staffed by
are aimed at establishing that “first touch”
advance practice nurses. Doctor on Demand
with consumers, when a positive experience
offers virtual office visits with clinicians via
can forge long-lasting,
a web-based computer,
loyal relationships with
mobile phone or tablet
MultiCare’s First
patients. And these 2.0
for a fixed fee of just
Touch strategy
strategies offer consum$49. Through a partgoes far beyond the
ers a broader variety of
nership with Zipnosis,
hospital or emergency
healthcare options at
consumers can access a
department to reach
lower cost. They include:
RediClinic nurse with
patients where they
health concerns for just
live, work, and shop.
1. RediClinics in Rite Aid
$25. The Zipnosis platstores: Walk‐in clinform utilizes branching
ics for diagnosing and
logic to determine if the
treating common symptoms and illnesses.
individual’s present complaint and healthcare history render them an appropriate
2. Doctor on Demand: Virtual online
candidate for this type of low acuity visit.
healthcare visits with a clinician to treat
The partnership with Rite Aid has helped
minor conditions.
MultiCare learn how to design products and
services that appeal to consumers in a retail
3. eCare sessions: E-mail access to an
setting. Without question, the marketing
advanced practice nurse who answers
approach is very different than traditional
minor health questions and addresses
healthcare marketing. And likewise, there are
concerns.
huge differences in the design, supply chain,
and finance structure of retail establishments.
4. Indigo Urgent Care clinics: Walk‐in cenBut the payoff has been an increase in those
ters geared to “individuals on the go,” for
all-important first touches. MultiCare incommon acute illnesses and injuries too
troduced its first three RediClinics in March
complex for the RediClinics.
2015, and by 2016, there were 11 clinics
throughout the Seattle-Tacoma area.
These retail channels complement MultiCare’s integrated network, which consists of
On the Way to Being
four adult hospitals, one pediatric hospital,
Better Connected
two multispecialty centers, five outpatient
In terms of getting to the goal of touching
surgery centers, and nine urgent care centers.
1.3 million unique individuals by 2020,
With 75 percent of healthcare consumers
MultiCare is well on its way.
projected to have high deductible health
●● By the end of 2015, the system had grown
plans by 2020, retail healthcare is a strategy
that is ahead of the curve.
First Touch encounters by 1.5 percent.

●●

By year end 2016, MultiCare was 4.4
percent above baseline.

Even more significant is the net that
MultiCare has cast in reaching consumers it
may have otherwise never reached.
●●

●●

Roughly half of Doctor on Demand
patients in 2016 were non-MultiCare
patients and virtual visits increased 194
percent in 2016 over 2015.
Patients rated their experiences at 4.9 on
a scale of 1 to 5.

Recent acquisitions of the Immediate
Clinics and the Rockwood Health System
will help MultiCare achieve its target of 1.3
million unique individuals. Since several of
the First Touch channels are being brought
to market from 2015 to 2017, most of the
growth in First Touch encounters is expected
to peak from 2018 to 2020.
MultiCare continues to explore new
ways to provide healthcare services on a

retail or virtual basis. As consumers seek
better options that are more convenient
and less expensive, being better connected has never been more important
to MultiCare’s strategic success and the
health and well being of the communities we serve.
To learn more, check out the downloadable recording of my presentation
entitled “Virtual Health, Retail Visits,
and other 2.0 Strategies in a World of
Disruptive Innovations.” It’s available
for purchase as part of the SHSMD
Connections Virtual Conference at
shsmd.org/virtualconference.

Key Takeaways
●●

●●

●●

Christi McCarren, RN
Senior Vice President, Retail Health and
Community-Based Care
MultiCare Health System
Tacoma, WA
(253) 403-1617
cmccarren@multicare.org

●●

A “retail understanding” does not
happen on its own—it takes courage.
Look to innovators in other industries
to help refine your efforts.
Because retail is so different than the
hospital setting, a complete carve-out
of retail support services will reap the
greatest success, such as for:
—— Human resources/recruiting
—— Marketing
—— Design
—— Supply chain
In terms of finance, a retail corporate
allocation is critical instead of the
traditional hospital-based cost center
approach.
Turf battles surrounding reporting
structure must be addressed.

Campaign Creative



March/April 2017 | Spectrum

3

M A R K E T I N G

A N A LY T I C S

Learn how one health system used
consumer research and predictive analytics
to grow revenue and guide advertising.
By David G. Duvall

“All truth passes through three

stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being
self-evident.” For healthcare strategists today,
this quote from the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer reflects the relationship
between skepticism and the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data as a
means to better decision making.
The ability to generate data-driven insights using statistics, complex modeling, and
data mining is a key implication featured in
SHSMD’s Bridging Worlds: The Future Role of
the Healthcare Strategist. Utilizing consumer
data sources and marketing analytics can help
marketers, strategists, and other healthcare
leaders evaluate trends, predict outcomes, and
strategize about future opportunities.
At Novant Health, headquartered in North
Carolina, the marketing team has embarked
upon a journey to use untapped data from
diverse sources to identify and engage new
consumers, develop more relevant products
and services, and pinpoint the media channels
that perform best for significant consumer
segments in the communities we serve. Here
is our story.
The Path to Segmentation
The Novant Health brand was launched in
2013 when the health system brought together
more than 350 separate brands, 13 hospitals,
4 Spectrum | March/April 2017

500 outpatient clinics, and 1,300
employed physicians with a goal
of improving the patient experience. Additionally, our aim was to double annual revenue
within five years—a scale necessary to deliver
quality care at substantially lower costs.
To achieve these ambitious goals in a hypercompetitive marketplace, we turned to
concepts used by many industries for several
decades, but which haven’t been used to their
full potential in healthcare—segmentation
and targeting.
Segmentation is the grouping of people
with common characteristics to deliver messages, products, and services that match their
unique needs. These groups are typically
shaped using demographic characteristics,
such as age, gender, income, education, location, and ethnicity. However, we hypothesized
those elements alone would not provide the
insights necessary to create enduring connections with consumers and patients. Therefore,
we added several dimensions to strengthen
the study: attitudes, lifestyle and behaviors,
caregiving status, life stage and health status,
and desire for value-added services, such as online scheduling and same-day appointments.
To start, we talked with more than 30
stakeholders across our health system to ensure that the segmentation exercise would
inform our go-to-market strategies. Next, we
conducted several consumer focus groups,
and then surveyed more than 1,600 consumers, patients, and caregivers.

The nine-month project culminated with
actionable insights. Our research was statistically robust and well-distributed across our
footprint. We gained intelligence on challenges and opportunities relative to competitors
in areas including quality, value, technology,
and trust.
Our 6 Segments
Using the data, Novant Health identified six
unique population segments. (See Figure
1.) Two segments—“Eager & Engaged” and
“Savvy & Connected”—emerged as key priorities. Today, marketing resources focus on
these groups which account for nearly 50
percent of our target market because our
brand promise truly resonates with them.
These segments are also comprised of a high
proportion of women—healthcare purchasers, influencers, and caregivers. Our ultimate
goal is to increase engagement and loyalty
with these two segments while building affinity with the others.
Translating Insights
into Initiatives
We discovered three common needs among
the segments. As a result of data mining, we
created cross-functional teams to address
these insights and opportunities:
●●

ACCESS: O
 ur strategy includes pro-

viding more appointments when and
where patients need them. Care Connections is our 24-hour virtual care hub,
which includes nurse triage, scheduling,
wellness coaching, discharge follow-ups,
medication management, psychosocial
consults, and class registration. Same-day
appointment availability was also expanded through extended walk-in clinic and
physician office hours, new care locations,
and increased use of video and e-visits. In
2016, more than 9,000 patients have been
“seen” via electronic means.
●●

COST CLARITY:We are committed to

providing our patients with personal
and visual guidance. For example, Billing 101 is Novant Health’s new online
tool with content and video that explains
premiums, deductibles, copays, and outof-pocket maximums to help patients
better understand healthcare expenses.
We also strengthened our financial navigator program for patients who need help

estimating their healthcare expenses. To
date, our navigators have created more
than 3,600 personalized estimates using
our cost assessment tool.
●●

DIGITAL INTEGRATION: We are focused

on improving the way we connect with
patients via their computers, smartphones, and tablets. In 2015, Novant
Health introduced online appointment
scheduling. To date, nearly 7,000 patients
have used the Hold My Place feature to
make reservations at our express and urgent care facilities. Since launching Open
Schedule, which gives visibility into physician and clinic schedules, about 180,000
patients have made appointments through
the web or MyChart patient portal. In
terms of MyChart, we’re proud to say that
we lead the nation with nearly 600,000
consumers routinely engaged through this
electronic tool. We are also integrating fitness trackers with care plans.
Market Mix Modeling
Historically, our marketing budgeting and
approval process had been subjective and
challenging to defend. Soon after launching
the Novant Health brand, we recognized a
need for a fact-based approach to determining the appropriate size of our budget—
especially spend levels for advertising by
market and channel.
After scanning the external landscape, we
elected to build the new market mix modeling capability internally. Our playbook
included hiring an insights and analytics expert, trained in economics and data science
with consumer products goods experience
(e.g., Nielson and PepsiCo).
A marketing model framework was designed to help us understand television, radio,
print, direct mail, and digital advertising’s
impact on hospital cases and employed physician encounters across our markets. Next, we
organized, cleaned, and archived all advertising information so that it could be used as a
data point for multivariate regression modeling. We also evaluated and purchased market
mix software as the modeling engine.
In a nutshell, multivariate modeling allows us to simultaneously run large numbers
of independent variables versus a dependent
variable. This establishes the degree to which
a cause-and-effect relationship exists. In our
case, the dependent variable is patient volume


and the independent variables are marketing
and non-marketing activities and events.
Once the model of best fit is found, the
software runs more analytics to learn how
effective each marketing variable is in driving patient volume per dollar invested. The
software also calculates diminishing return
curves for each marketing variable, highlighting optimal and suboptimal spend levels by
channel and market. Aggregating this data
helps formulate an objective and more defensible advertising budget recommendation.
Since implementation in 2015, we are
able to make better informed, fiscally responsible budgeting decisions. Among the
results: patient encounters attributable to
marketing efforts have increased by 17 percent; patient cases attributable to marketing
efforts have increased by 20 percent; and the
rate of return for marketing spend is greater
than 26 percent, at the net income level.
Key Takeaways
●● Strategists can play a role in identifying
the best tools to collect, interpret, and
communicate information.

●●

●●

●●

New tools and capabilities—especially
in the areas of marketing analytics—are
essential.
A deep understanding of consumer preference can help guide and shape plans.
The new healthcare marketing model requires speed, agility, and the courage to
foster a “test-and-learn” culture.

For more information, be sure to access
my downloadable presentation entitled
“Designing for the Healthcare Consumer
Landscape: New Models and New Tools.”
It’s available for purchase as part of the
SHSMD Connections Virtual Conference
at shsmd.org/virtualconference.
David G. Duvall
Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing &
Communications Officer
Novant Health
Charlotte, NC 
(704) 384-6037
dgduvall@novanthealth.org

Figure 1.
Novant Health’s 6
Consumer Segments
Eager & Engaged Stewards – 18%
Actively involved with healthcare, and
many are in the “sandwich generation”
Savvy & Connected Patients – 29%
Enjoy taking care of their health, and are
looking to maintain/increase their involvement
in healthcare
Healthy & Unconcerned – 24%
Want as few interactions as possible, and engage with
healthcare providers only when necessary
Cost-Conscious Guidance Seekers – 6%
Generally frugal, but will pay for access to services they value
Responsible & Resolute Boomers – 14%
Prefer one-on-one care interactions with their provider, and are
averse to alternative/digital care
Uninterested & Unengaged – 8%
See minimal value to an improved care experience

March/April 2017 | Spectrum

5

D I G I TA L

E N G A G E M E N T

How to Gain Meaningful
Engagement from
Your Patient Portal
Discover how a Minnesota health
system turned its patient portal into
a tool for meaningful use, leading
to more confident and connected
patients.
By Todd Smith, MD, and Debra Zalvan

By now, most hospitals have patient

portals—though their capabilities vary. By
2015, in fact, 69 percent of hospitals were
giving their patients access to view, download, and transmit their health data; and
63 percent were providing secure patientprovider messaging, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health
Information Technology.
It also seems that everyone—hospitals and
patients alike—finds portals challenging. Regardless, hospitals still need these electronic
tools to meet Meaningful Use requirements.
HealthEast, a four-hospital system serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, was
determined to make good use of its patient
portal—to improve health outcomes by
6 Spectrum | March/April 2017

sharing proactive, consistent health information that patients could access anywhere.
We did this by integrating two digital
health tools—the health system’s existing
Epic patient portal and the UbiCare patient engagement solution—into a seamless patient experience we call MyPregnancy
Tracker.
When used well, portals help hospitals
engage patients, increase patient satisfaction,
and improve the patient experience. An engaging portal inspires patients to take ownership of their care and achieve better health
outcomes. It builds patients’ connections to
their hospital, which translates into return
visits and referrals of friends and family.
But portals also require that patients
actively visit them to engage in patientprovider communication. This puts the
burden on patients and hinders our ability
to engage with them.
At HealthEast, we believed that we could
engage and activate patients if the portal
offered them more than just a way to check
lab results or send messages to their doctors.

We wanted to incorporate proactive patient
education and maximize the investment in
our existing patient portal by increasing use
and engagement.
For more than a decade, we have connected
with expectant and new moms through our
pregnancy engagement solution—targeted
educational content shared by e-mail on a
weekly basis. These messages begin at the
point when each mom learns she is pregnant
and continue through her child’s third
birthday. We chose this population as a pilot
group to receive the same health information
in their portals as well.
The U.S. Department of Labor notes that
women make approximately 80 percent
of healthcare decisions for their families.
Connecting with this population is vital to
impacting the health outcomes of women
and their families over a lifetime.
A Bi-Directional Connection
with Patients
We sought to transform the portal into a
robust engagement solution without taxing
existing staff or systems. To accomplish this,
we used bi-directional application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect our two
existing health technology systems—the patient portal and our pregnancy engagement
solution—giving each patient a seamless
experience and improved patient-provider
communication from the hospital at all
touch points. (See Figure 1.) We enlisted
Huron Consulting to build a single dashboard that combined these systems to form
MyPregnancy Tracker.
MyPregnancy Tracker:
●●

Provides targeted, engaging content that

patients use to manage their healthcare
and communicate with us.
●●

Proactively pushes health information
out to patients instead of waiting for

them to come to us, keeping HealthEast
top of mind.
●●

Pre-empts patients’ concerns and
questions , delighting patients and

reducing staff workload by decreasing
triage calls.
●●

Can be customized at any time to keep

patients up-to-date and connect with
them at a moment’s notice.

●●

Drives patients back to the portal to

interact even more.

Figure 1.

How it works: API is the critical link

Patients Are More Satisfied,
More Engaged
Patients say that MyPregnancy Tracker is
easy to access, more trustworthy than other
sources, and helps them feel more confident
in caring for their children.
Here is a sample of what patients say:
●●

●●

●●

“I am impressed by how often my questions
about my son are answered!”
“… well-timed and has been reassuring …”
“These e-mails, paired with the excellent
lactation staff at the hospital, made me a
more confident mother. Thank you!”

Our data shows that people are engaged
with the educational content we’re sharing.
The average open rate for our messages sent
to expectant and new moms is 43 percent.
The average engagement rate is 57 percent.
These open and engagement rates far surpass
the 2016 national averages for health-related
e-mails, which are about 23 percent and
4 percent, respectively.
Our patients complete surveys about their
satisfaction with our education solution 90
days after delivering at our hospital. Patient
feedback tells us that because of MyPregnancy Tracker:
●●

●●

●●

●●

Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow data to easily and automatically
flow between existing systems with minimal resources required. For patients already
receiving HealthEast’s pregnancy education e-mails, seeing the same information on
their portals provides consistent, reinforcing support. Patients not yet signed up for the
e-mails are automatically subscribed once they see MyPregnancy Tracker content on
their portals.

Step 1:
Patient visits portal
and receives stagespecific information

over. It’s much more efficient to proactively give patients the answers they need,
at or before the point when they need it.
●●

74 percent feel more confident to care
for themselves

●●

77 percent feel more connected to our
hospitals

Reduced staff workload:Our education

pre-emptively answers patients’ questions,
leading to fewer triage calls. Think about
how much time the average nurse or office
manager spends on the phone each week,
answering the same questions over and


An increase in patient satisfaction scores,
positive word of mouth, and new and
repeat business: M
 yPregnancy Tracker

sets us apart from other hospitals. We expect it to contribute to better ratings from
patients, recommendations to their friends
and family, increases in repeat use of our
maternity services, and return visits for
pediatric and family medicine care.

We expect additional long-term impact,
including:
●●

Lower cost per patient: I n an Agency for

Healthcare Research and Quality study
of patients who received education and
a clear hospital discharge plan, patients
were 30 percent less likely to visit the
emergency department or be readmitted
within 30 days. Pre-discharge education
also contributed to an average cost savings
of $412 per patient.

72 percent of patients feel better prepared
for their obstetrics appointments

77 percent feel more confident to care
for their children

Step 2:
API imports patient
data directly into
our pregnancy
engagement solution

●●

New revenue from parenting classes:

MyPregnancy Tracker gives us a way to
connect with 100 percent of obstetrics
patients and generate greater awareness

Step 3:
Patient automatically
receives weekly messages
about her pregnancy and
HealthEast resources

of our revenue-generating resources, such
as classes.
Proactive Engagement
Works Best
Our results show that proactive digital
messaging is the best way to connect with
patients for the biggest impact on patient
satisfaction and outcomes. It gives patients
a seamless experience, while allowing us
to use our portal as a powerful tool and to
consistently educate patients with targeted
content.
Todd Smith, MD
Vice President, Chief Medical
Information Officer
HealthEast
St. Paul, MN
(651) 232-6906
tsmith@healtheast.org

Debra Zalvan
Executive Vice President of Marketing
UbiCare
Boston, MA
(617) 524-8861
debra.zalvan@ubicare.com

March/April 2017 | Spectrum

7

C O M M U N I C AT I O N S

Renovating an Internal
Communications Infrastructure
Building a strong foundation for
employee engagement requires
a thorough inspection of existing
channels and a research-based
blueprint.
By Steve Campbell,
Mary Havard, and
Kathleen Lewton

In 2013, the University of Texas Medical

Branch (UTMB Health) was at a crossroads.
The large, diverse, 123-year-old academic
medical center—with four schools, research
enterprise, health system, correctional managed care program, and 12,000 faculty and
staff spread across 700-plus miles—was experiencing rapid growth in enrollment and
clinics.
It also was in the midst of a years-long
recovery from 2008’s Hurricane Ike, which
did $1 billion in damage to the headquarters
campus on Galveston Island and closed its
hospital for four months. A resulting major
reduction in force—coupled with leadership changes and the overall rapid pace of
8 Spectrum | March/April 2017

change in healthcare—had employees feeling
uninformed and unsure about the future.
General employee satisfaction surveys
indicated that communications needed
improvement, but the data didn’t show a
clear way forward. So, as it was revitalizing
a campus, UTMB Health began renovating
internal communications as well.
Why Renovate?
For UTMB Health, the business case for
change was clear. The right internal communications infrastructure can make life easier
for communicators and audiences alike. It
cuts down on information clutter—saving
time, effort, and misunderstandings. It helps
teams understand why their work matters.
And, the more engaged employees are in their
work, the more likely they are to efficiently
provide high-quality, safe care, and excellent
service to patients and their families.
Research showed that UTMB Health
didn’t need a larger house with fancier technology. It needed a strong foundation built
on a limited number of traditional—but
best—practices.

Planning and Design
We began with active sponsorship from
executive leadership. Renovations can be
disruptive; it pays to have full support from
the heads of household. With that in hand,
we began planning and design:
Step 1: A comprehensive inspection. Just

as a home renovation begins with an assessment of current state, UTMB Health did a
full inspection of its existing program before
hammering one nail.
Given the university’s unique situation,
we opted to engage a consultant with a fresh
perspective and up-to-date insights on best
practices.
The inspection phase began with a
comprehensive audit of current communications channels, followed by in-person
thought-leader interviews and two custom
surveys—for managers and employees. Survey data guided topics for a dozen in-person
focus groups with managers and front-line
staff in multiple locations, roles, and work
environments.
UTMB Health opted to “take it down to

the studs” because of the tremendous number
of changes the institution had gone through
and would go through near-term. A similar
deep-dive may not be necessary at every
institution, but the best practice of basing
plans on insights from your own workforce
helps ensure the resulting program works
for you.
Step 2: A “blueprint,” based on research
findings. Data affirmed the need to share

information in a more reliable, intentional,
and timely way; help employees and managers feel better informed; increase two-way
communication; and make better use of
existing channels.
Other important findings:
●●

●●

●●

●●

●●

●●

●●

E-mail wasn’t working well. Many employees didn’t have access, and those
who did were overwhelmed by it.
Employees wanted one source of information—their manager.
Existing town hall meetings with the
president were praised in theory, but
very few could attend due to schedule
or location.
Employees wanted a print newsletter—
heavy on employee stories—to augment
an existing e-version.
And, they wanted a more user-friendly
internal website.
Nearly 90 percent of managers knew
communication was a priority, but less
than a third felt well-informed enough
to convey institutional information and
answer questions.
Managers were busy and buried in email. They wanted guidance on what
to share and how to share it.

One Room at a Time
The resulting infrastructure blueprint included one core channel, supported by updated
versions of some existing channels. We’ve
staged the implementation over time, starting
with the highest priority:
1. Weekly Relays, the new core channel,

debuted in 2015. These 10- to 15-minute,



“all hands” meetings foster face-to-face,
two-way communication between supervisors and employees. An internal
communications council (ICC)—with
12 members representing key areas of the
institution—develops talking points sent
at the same time on the same day every
week, without fail, to 850 designated Relay leaders. These leaders are responsible
for adding local workgroup information
and holding their Relay meeting within
seven days. Relay leaders were trained on
the program and have a website with talking points archives, tips and tools, plus direct e-mail access to the communications
team for questions and support.

get ongoing input on how the program is
working. Visible changes are made when
appropriate, so users can see they’ve been
heard.

Lessons from the
Remodel
With the benefit of hindsight, we can
offer the following lessons learned:
●●

●●

2. A printed newsletter distributes month-

ly on news racks and via mail to remote
clinics. A content plan ensures balanced
coverage across mission areas, schools,
campuses, and remote clinics.

●●

●●

3. “Town Hall on the Road” brings se-

nior leader town hall meetings to the
work site, to give front-line staff a chance
to meet and ask questions of executive
leadership.

4. An internal website is currently in

redesign, using input from user groups
throughout the institution.

Measure More than Twice
Ongoing research quantifies success and
reveals needed adjustments. A brief pulse
survey among Relay leaders three months
after the program launched showed that 75
percent of respondents felt the new program
was working moderately or extremely well.
An all-employee pulse survey at the sevenmonth mark indicated that 75 percent of respondents felt better informed about UTMB
Health’s plans and initiatives.
Survey input led us to create a more
streamlined Relay Notes template, with the
most used section (Department News) in a
more prominent spot and content organized
by four major job roles. We started a “Did
You Know” feature and now label “Action
Items” when needed. We also launched the
first in a series of “how to” videos featuring
effective Relay leaders.
Now two years post-renovation, the
communications team works closely with
ICC members and executive leadership to

●●

●●

Leadership support is key.
Any change in the right direction is
better than perfection that never sees
the light of day.
Establish consistency early.
A custom build is better than pre-fab.
Use data to design the right program
for your employees at your institution.
Establish guiding principles to make
the infrastructure adaptable, particularly in large, complex organizations.
It’s a messy, never-ending—but
worthwhile—journey.

Steve Campbell
Vice President,
Marketing and Communications
UTMB Health
Galveston, TX
(409) 772-3355
stepcamp@utmb.edu

Mary Havard
Associate Vice President,
Marketing and Communications
UTMB Health
Galveston, TX
(409) 772-3355
mghavard@utmb.edu

Kathleen Lewton
Principal
Lewton, Seekins & Trestor
Stamford, CT
(203) 968-0004
kathylewton@aol.com

March/April 2017 | Spectrum

9


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