The Project in Brief
We served as the lead communications agency for the Primary Health Care (PHC) branch of Saskatchewan Health as it developed a new approach to health care in the province. We began this project when the report, Patient-Centred, Community Designed, Team Delivered, Saskatchewan’s new framework for primary health care, was drafted in 2011. We helped develop the initial communications plan and revised it during the second phase when was it was rolled out to the regional health authorities and other health stakeholders.
We began this project by attending meetings of a steering committee that was responsible for developing the new approach to primary health care. We reviewed the draft Framework document and helped facilitate discussions with key PHC members on the best methods to communicate this new framework. We also conducted a stakeholder assessment with the branch and reviewed the best methods to communicate with them. We created a PHC communications committee consisting of members from both the PHC and Communications branches.
Results and Challenges
Our strategy focused on the benefits of the PHC redesign, which was a challenging undertaking since each stakeholder group received different benefits. For physicians, for example, the emphasis was on an improved quality of life through better time management. For patients, it was on better service and greater control of their personal health care. The communications strategy matched the different phases of the redesign: the framework development, re-affirmation, pilot project, and general roll-out. During the initial phase, the majority of the communications took place on a direct contact basis. Spokespeople were identified for the target audiences and they received appropriate supporting materials such as a stock presentation, questions and answers, and a Highlight document from the Framework. Feedback was received in the form of information obtained during the presentations, through email, and via the telephone.
A regular email newsletter was developed which provided on-going communications with key stakeholders, presented updates on various aspects of the campaign, documented success stories, provided information on overcoming challenges, and addressed any other issues as they developed. Additional feedback was solicited and monitored through email and the newsletter, and whenever necessary, changes in either the communications strategy or the implementation strategy were made. As PHC teams formed and experienced success, these achievements were documented through stakeholder consultations, email, telephone, website and by monitoring RHA newsletters and other communications tools. Due to the complex nature of primary health care, it was challenging to review successes in one area of the province and communicate those best practices in other areas where the situation may be different.