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Harnessing the power of internal ambassadors

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Article

Creating ambassadors internally can play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the organizational vision and the patient experience.

heart stethoscope | © osaba - stock.adobe.com

© osaba - stock.adobe.com

Healthcare organizations continue to face an ever-evolving landscape of challenges and opportunities. As you strive to provide the best possible care to patients, one crucial aspect often overlooked is the role of your internal team. Creating ambassadors internally can play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the organizational vision and the patient experience. All too often organizations put external marketing above internal communications. As important as marketing is, that creates a divide as consumers/patients expect one thing and may experience something very different when interacting with the organization and its people.

In this article, we will delve into the importance of creating internal ambassadors within your healthcare organization, and how a robust onboarding process and a well-structured communication plan can empower your team to become strong brand advocates, driving awareness, preference, and growth.

The significance of internal ambassadors

As digital access and usage continues to grow it is very clear that the patient experience is paramount. Reviews are the number one online resource for patients looking for a healthcare provider, with 74% saying positive reviews are extremely important in their decision-making process. And if you have ever spent time reading online reviews for healthcare organizations you will immediately note the majority are not about the care received, but about the experience they had with the practice.

A positive patient experience is directly related to an organization's reputation and revenue. To achieve success, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to cultivate a strong team of internal ambassadors.

Understanding the organizational vision: When you take the time to share with your team where the organization is currently AND where it's heading, the opportunities for engagement and support become endless. They gain a deep grasp of the organization's mission, values, and long-term objectives. This understanding is vital for aligning the entire team and creating a unified focus on achieving organizational goals.

Identifying strengths and gaps: With an eye on achieving goals, your internal ambassadors are more likely to actively assess the organization's processes, identifying areas of success and those that require improvement. This feedback loop is invaluable for continuous quality enhancement within healthcare organizations.

Enhancing brand advocacy: When employees truly connect with the organization's mission and vision, they become enthusiastic brand advocates. Their commitment shines and they are more likely to appropriately promote their organization's services and values, contributing to a positive external brand image.

Building a strong foundation

Creating internal ambassadors begins with a robust onboarding process. Employees who have effective onboarding feel up to 18x more commitment to their workplace. Many healthcare organizations invest significantly in recruitment but often fall short when it comes to the crucial onboarding phase. If your organization isn’t looking at the timeline in which employees are hired and identifying gaps, you will continue to struggle in this competitive job market.

Here are some things to consider when gauging your organizations onboarding programs and procedures:

  • Offer made: Moving candidates through the process in a timely fashion and ensuring communications around an offer are clear and welcoming is a critical first step for any organization.
  • Comprehensive orientation: Ensure that new employees receive a comprehensive orientation that covers the organization's mission, values, and strategic goals. This should include a deep dive into the culture and expectations.
  • Mentorship and buddy systems: Assign mentors or buddies to help new team members acclimate to their roles and the organization. This fosters a sense of belonging and accelerates their journey to becoming a strong organizational ambassador.
  • Continuous learning and development: Encourage ongoing education and training to keep employees informed and updated on industry trends, best practices, and organizational developments. Strong employees want to be challenged and continue to grow.

It is also recommended that you consider creating a consistent compensation model which creates greater opportunities for transparent employee communications and employee development plans.

Structured communication plan

Continuing to have candid and regular communications with your organization allows you to take a pulse and ensure everyone continues to row in the same direction. This transparency builds trust and keeps employees informed.

Healthcare organizations face unique challenges with communications as most of the team is engaged in patient care throughout the day, so they are not sitting at a computer checking emails regularly. Using a variety of communication tools will increase the likelihood your messages are read.

A well-structured communication plan is the backbone of every successful organization. To be effective, you will want to strategically think through the following:

  • Annual plan: Take the time to lay out the year and note key milestones and dates. This ensures your communications are thoughtful versus haphazard and reactionary. Then you can begin to plan out the cadence of your communications. Looking at it holistically allows you to quickly identify gaps and areas of need.
  • Written communications: Consider using a variety of tools to share important information, updates, successes, and challenges.And don’t forget to celebrate your team members whenever possible. Consider distributing regular newsletters, short email updates and printed messages to be shared in break rooms or other common employee areas.
  • Regular meetings: Conduct regular team meetings and town halls to discuss organizational progress, address concerns, and foster open dialogue.
  • One-on-one discussions: Encourage one-on-one discussions between employees and supervisors. These personalized conversations can help identify and address individual concerns and aspirations, further strengthening commitment to the organization.
  • Leadership Rounding: Whether you are a small startup or a larger organization, don’t ever underestimate the power of leaders taking the time to visit with team members.It shows you value their time and work and creates a more intimate setting for sharing thoughts and ideas.

Thriving through internal ambassadorship

A recent MGMA poll found that staffing continues to be the biggest priority for practice leaders. Healthcare organizations that invest in creating internal ambassadors are poised for long term success. These dedicated individuals will support the organization's vision, actively contribute to its improvement, and wholeheartedly advocate for its brand. They can be the driving force behind delivering best in class patient experiences.

By starting with a strong onboarding process and implementing a structured communication plan, healthcare organizations can nurture a culture of collaboration, engagement, and excellence. In doing so, they ensure that every patient encounter is nothing less than exceptional. Internal ambassadors are the key to achieving this vision, and organizations that harness their potential will thrive in the ever-competitive healthcare landscape.

Kirstan Cecil is the founder and CEO of KC Business Growth Consultancy, a company that specializes in strategic marketing plans, customer journey mapping and internal communications and engagement programs.She can be reached at hello@kirstancecil.com.

Helen Combs is the founder and CEO of HBC Consultancy, a company that specializes in strategic planning and growth, medical practice and clinical research development and expansion and driving best of class experiences for customers, patients, employees, and referral partners.She can be reached at helencombs1@gmail.com.

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