This episode is about moving from talk about health equity to action on health equity. Hear about common challenges in doing health equity work. And we announce a new miniseries dedicated to communication in public health.
Today’s episode is about moving from talk about health equity to action on health equity. You’ll learn about some common challenges in doing health equity work and how they can be managed. And you’ll hear about our new miniseries dedicated to communication in public health.
Hi everybody, this is “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication” from Health Communication Partners. I’m Dr. Anne Marie Liebel. Our course Foundations of Equitable Communication in Health has been found to make a statistically significant improvement in people’s communication knowledge, confidence, and skills. This course, it includes a one hour, live, group meeting for the course participants after the course. So we can get started applying what you’ve learned–in your specific workplace. Learn more at healthcommunicationpartners.com.
Transcripts for this and each of our episodes is at h-cpartners.com with links to relevant research. Because we are always linking research to practice. Have you signed up for our newsletter? I send out the monthly BRIDGES newsletter when I share what’s happened that month at HCP, including these episodes. And, midmonth I send out In Focus. It’s our top resources on a theme. If you have signed up but you’re not getting it, check your junk folder. I use 2-step authentication, so you’ll need to confirm, and sometimes the newsletters end up there. It happens to me!
This month’s In Focus just went out and the theme was communication and collaboration. And if that’s on your mind, you’re in for a treat! We’re doing something new!
Coming up in our very next episode later this month, we’re kicking off a miniseries dedicated to public health and communication. I’m delighted to welcome back to the show from Health Resources and Services Administration Samantha Cinnick. Sam visited us back before covid, and well a lot has happened since then. So she’s agreed to sit down with me for 4 separate conversations about 4 different issues in communication in public health. Issues you may be familiar with, even if you’re not in public health. She’s sitting down and reflecting with me, sharing stories and what she’s learned. I’m grateful to Sam and I really appreciate her perspective as an early career public health professional. This miniseries on communication issues in public health will run once a month for the next 4 months starting with our very next episode. So stay tuned. Sam is great and she’s a really easy person to talk to.
One of the biggest delights of being a consultant is all the different people I get to work with. I get to know them as people and hear their stories, often fears and hang-ups related to communication. People are always worrying that they’re not doing enough, or that they’re doing it right, or that they’re offending people accidentally. And everyone is talking about equity. Often I’m on the front lines with people who are patient facing. Sometimes I’m with people who are wanting to communicate better with their colleagues. Sometimes with the leaders who want to be better leaders or are leading communication improvement in their organization.
I’m incredibly grateful to my clients. I’ve learned so much. One of the things I’ve learned is that You are already good communicators. You are knocking yourselves out to do a good job at communicating. Another thing I learned is that you know what needs to be done to advance health equity.
The questions I’m hearing are around how we take action from where we’re at. Whoever I’m talking to, in any community or organization, people know where they’re at, and where they want to be regarding health equity. They know how things should look, and often how problems could be addressed.
So the commonality I’m hearing and seeing, this was said best by one physician leader. She put it to me this way, and this is the quote I used as the title of this episode: “Everyone cares about health equity but we don’t always know what to do next about it.”
As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more pressing than this. So that’s what I’m going to be talking about over the coming weeks. Alongside our miniseries on communication in public health, I’ll be sharing my own stories. Stories of what I’ve been doing as a consultant and educator to help orgs of all kinds to take action on equity from where they’re at.
You won’t be surprised to hear that communication is a big part of this. You already know communication is a patient safety issue, a quality improvement issue, an interprofessional issue, and it’s an equity issue. So I bring my specific approach to communication, one that is not commonly used in healthcare and public health. This show and all I do takes equity lenses on communication and education. In the coming weeks I’ll dive more into what that means, but the short answer is: it means more tools and structures to improve communication at individual and systems levels– and improve it in equitable directions and improve it in concrete ways.
But there are challenges to doing this work that we can’t ignore.
One of the challenges of doing equity work I’ve heard and seen, is health equity strategy can feel too remote. Too far from having direct impact on people. Well, that’s one of the strengths of working with communication as part of health equity strategy. You can address it, yes at the organizational level and at the individual level. And as you know, changes in communication can have immediate impact.
Another challenge is everyone is grappling with scarce resources. And everyone already has demanding jobs. We’re not stopping what we do to pursue equity; it has to be built in. So the way I work isn’t additive, it’s not adding one more thing. Instead we’re strengthening and extending your existing approaches to communication. It’s not that you’re not working hard enough: you are. It just more tools in the toolbox. Often, a different perspective can open up possibilities we didn’t see before.
Equity is a process. I had a client tell me just last week there are so many equity initiatives, people are feeling burnt out already. Yay on all the equity initiatives but we can’t have burnout. We’re in this for the long haul. You take good care of other people, but you need support too. Organizational integration is key, getting into existing workflows. So that we’re systematically and sustainably building health equity into core functions. There isn’t a core function that communication doesn’t touch.
Collaboration is part of this too, because we all know if you want to get work done on big problems, it means talking to people outside our usual hallways. Yes, collaboration can have its own communication challenges. Often as a consultant I’m educating on topics that address the most pressing needs of the participants. Samantha Cinnick who I mentioned is doing a 4 part miniseries with us, well Samantha and I met years ago pre-covid at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health when I was there doing a series of talks on multisector collaboration. Which holy cow, multisector collaboration, a lot of layers of communication there. So I’m going to go head and put links in the notes for that.
Over coming weeks, I’ll tell you more about what I’ve been up to, what I’ve seen and heard and done around turning to action. About embedding equity in core processes, and what you can do. If you’re wondering what you can do right now? You’re in luck. I’m gonna drop in a link in, to not just one, but 20 ways you can help move toward health equity.
This has been “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication” from Health Communication Partners. Audio engineering by Joe Liebel, music by Joe Liebel and Alexis R.