It’s the second anniversary of HealthCommunicationPartners.com. We’ve been celebrating in a few different ways, and today I wanted to write to you.
This is because so much has happened in Year 2, thanks largely to you! So I want to share some highlights, some surprises…and some exciting announcements as we begin Year 3.
Hearing your stories
Nothing compares to this. From your emails, on social media, on the phone and Skype, and in person, your stories are what drive HCP.
You might know we started interview episodes in “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication.” I heard a powerful story from Dr. Ann Ancona at Kent State University during her interview. Dr. Ancona talked her personal connection to a specific communication challenge she faces as a provider and an educator: communication when the patient (or parent) is a medical professional.
Next week, we’ll hear from Dr. Paul Ranelli at University of Minnesota. And soon, we’ll drop our first public health interview, with Samantha Cinnick from the deBeaumont Foundation. Stay tuned!
Seeing ideas spread
Another highlight is seeing the spread of the ideas on HCP. Right now we’re near 19,000 podcast downloads. We have more than 1300 subscribers. We’ve made 164 totally original and exclusive pieces of content—podcast episodes, articles, and infographics. They’re being accessed in 10 different countries.
As an educator, it’s been a thrill for me to learn that students are listening to podcast episodes as part of their coursework. Some feedback:
The 11 Health Literacy Tips for Providers podcast part that I found most helpful was not allowing a label to stick to a patient.
A key message that stood out to me the most in the podcast regarding health literacy tips was to remember to think about smart phones! Not only does this mean the patient has some level of literacy in general, they also can be used to solve many of the issues with someone struggling with taking in information
And you have taken up some of the ideas here in ways I could not anticipate.
A physician who took HCP’s Improving Medical Metaphors course told me he’s using it as part of the foundation for a large-scale project on metaphors in use by providers. This is amazing news.
One student appreciated my suggestion about taking seriously what patients bring with them to a visit. They connected to an example I’d never imagined:
“I have had patients bring videos, which is extremely helpful, as the child doesn’t always do what the parents are concerned about in the short duration of our visits with them. This is a good way to get conversation going and provides opportunity for us to alleviate concerns they may have.”
Meeting you in person
I love meeting you in person when I’m giving talks, consulting, or doing in-person workshops. And this year has been the busiest by far. My approach to workshops, talks, and classes involves co-constructing the topic with those who have asked me to speak. (Can I do a workshop for you? Yes.)
For example, I recently gave a plenary session on health literacy. During one conference call with the planning committee, I asked, “When it comes to health literacy, what are conference attendees concerned about, what are providers wondering about?”
This process was the same with Columbia Mailman SPH and the R2PHTC. I asked about the communication goals of those they serve. Over phone and email, we narrowed down some ways I could best support them: talks on multi-sector communication. Here’s the first of three webinars that came out of this set of conversations.
I listen to and learn from you. HCP is based on issues, problems, and questions that health professionals bring up. I listen to your stories, what you are asking, or what you’re facing. And often, I can hear where there’s a learning issue involved, for example, or a matter of how words and phrases are used.
Then I can link to relevant research. I try to provide studies from the health sector as well as from the education sector.
This way of taking up your questions is intentional. I learned this approach at Penn, and I’m entirely grateful to my mentor Dr. Susan Lytle for her continued inspiration, wisdom, and support.
I’m not adding one more thing to your day. All HCP resources are about looking at what you are already doing, and making it better in ways that matter to you and those you serve. It’s reflective practice, aimed at professional growth.
50th podcast episode
A big (and kind of unexpected) highlight was celebrating the 50th podcast episode with my brother.
You may know I co-produce “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication” with my brother Joe. We worked hard on this admittedly unusual episode and reflected together. I didn’t anticipate how much that process, and the resulting episode, was going to mean to me. Joe took the lead in this, and I couldn’t be more grateful for what I’m learning from him.
And it’s pretty cool to get to work with a sibling, now that we’re adults and don’t annoy each other quite so much.
One professional achievement was a highlight of this past year for me: I finalized and went public with the Building BRIDGES approach.
This framework took years to make. BRIDGES is the fundamentals of what I do. BRIDGES is my structure. It’s also a way of understanding my assumptions–and my aspirations! And I invite you to build BRIDGES through everything I do. Here are the basics – and our hashtag is #buildBRIDGES
This Spring, I was surprised and happy about the Department of Health and Human Services asking for public comment into a new definition of health literacy. I was encouraged by the working definition of health literacy offered by The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. I hope you got your comment in before the deadline this past August (I did…just in time).
I’m keeping my eye on this evolving concept—I’m curious, and hopeful.
Another health literacy surprise was having one of my manuscripts about health literacy accepted for publication. This is a big deal for me in two ways. Firstly, it allows me to honor my late Professor Dr. Brian Street. And my approach, based on Street’s work, is not what might be considered mainstream. So I’m thrilled about this opportunity.
A fun surprise came when my brother and I were asked by the Dean of a University to give him advice about starting (and maintaining) a podcast series! He’d heard about “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication.” He and his team saw parallels between what we were doing and what they wanted to do: educate people about complex and important topics in a way that was scholarly without being stuffy. We were both happy to share our experience with the Dean and his team and wish them the best podcast success!
A different kind of surprise dawned on me slowly over this past year. There are some significant differences in the research traditions I come from, and those that some of my audiences come from. I worried these differences could present as major obstacles to the work we could do together.
Research clashes are not news, and I talked about this topic recently at Columbia. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised: our differences in approach have not been the conversation-stoppers I feared they’d be. We are doing seriously strong work together.
I can say I’ve been fortunate to work with amazingly creative and brave people. I believe this has something to do with our collective ability to build bridges between research traditions.
We’re happy to announce the renaming of our monthly newsletter. Now, at the end of each month, the BRIDGES newsletter will bring you what’s happened at HCP that month. It’s full of our original, exclusive content, along with news and advance notice of what’s coming up. This is a handy way to keep up without getting bowled over.
And coming soon…
A groundbreaking answer to the question: How can we do this work at systems-level?
We’re excited to take our work at Health Communication Partners to the next level in Year 3. It’s a whole new way to collaborate with you.
It’s a new level in our ability to provide you with original, exclusive resources. Responsive to the problems and questions you bring. Loaded with research.
And as you’ve come to expect from HCP, this next step in our process of building BRIDGES remains grounded in a foundation of reflective practice, collaboration, and health equity. We couldn’t be more excited.