Evidence indicates that systematic, structured communications can support and enhance health care improvement initiatives.
This toolkit draws on the evidence available around communications and its relation to health care improvement, and has used the emerging insights to inform its content and structure.
As a useful summary, an evidence scan, based on 477 empirical research studies and published by the Health Foundation, highlights the following communications approaches as important in the spread of good practice in health care improvement:
- Ensure that you target a range of people when trying to implement change and spread improvement work. Include both clinical and managerial leaders.
- Involve the people you want to engage with as a priority early on in the project’s development. In this way you can listen to their needs and they can help shape development and outcomes.
- Create different messages to appeal to different audiences. Pay particular attention to communicating how your project can address other people’s priorities.
- Think about how you are going to communicate and spread the learning about your project from its outset. This includes setting aside time and funds for your project’s dissemination (informing others of its purpose and learning).
- When communicating with and engaging your audiences, make use of a wide range of communications approaches, such as social media, opinion leaders and professional networks.
- Recruit ‘change champions’ – those people with central or trusted positions within organisations. Evidence suggests that change champions or opinion leaders can influence uptake, especially among clinicians.
- Communicate within networks as well as to individuals. Peer involvement can be more influential in securing interest or behaviour change than the simple dissemination of information. For this reason, communications within professional networks can be effective in promoting the uptake of good practice.
 Cooper A, Jonathan G, Wilson, Lines C, McCannon J, McHardy. Exploring the role of communications in quality improvement: A case study of the 1000 Lives Campaign in NHS Wales. Maney Online, 2015.
 De Silva D. Spreading improvement ideas: Tips from empirical research. The Health Foundation, 2014.
Communications and its relation to quality improvement
Cooper A, Jonathan G, Wilson, Lines C, McCannon J, McHardy. Exploring the role of communications in quality improvement: A case study of the 1000 Lives Campaign in NHS Wales. Maney Online, 2015. www.maneyonline.com/doi/full/10.1179/1753807615Y.0000000006
Communicating improvement in a health care environment
Berwick D. Disseminating Innovations in Health Care. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 2010.
The Edge: A hub for change activists in health to exchange information and ideas, NHS Improving Quality.
Best practice in communications and health care
Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Healthcare, Mayo Clinic Centre for Social Media, 2012.
Donaldson A, Lank E, Maher J. Communities of Influence: Improving Healthcare through Conversations and Connections. Radcliffe Publishing, 2011.
Spreading health care improvement
De Silva D. Spreading improvement ideas: Tips from empirical research. The Health Foundation, 2014. www.health.org.uk/publication/spreading-improvement-ideas-tips-empirical-research
Using communications approaches to spread improvement, The Health Foundation, 2015.