Healthcare Communication - Center for Healthcare Organization & Implementation Research
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Healthcare Communication

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As a national, integrated healthcare system responsible for a large, defined adult population, VA has a special need to communicate health information to Veterans and their families. Studying communication strategies used by providers and the health care system to inform and influence the health of individuals and communities is at the core of CHOIR’s Healthcare Communications (HC) focal area. Healthcare communication is critical to preventing disease, promoting health, and fostering relationships between VA, the healthcare providers, and patients. Broader issues in healthcare communications focus on key VA initiatives to provide personalized, proactive patient-driven care in VA. Such communication happens at all levels of the organization, starting in the clinic between providers and patients moving to electronic communication between VA providers and patients, and on to broader VA public health communication with Veterans to help improve and manage health.

Our focal area encompasses three main aspects of healthcare communication:

  1. The first area focuses on the clinic level. Studies in this area seek to identify, test, and implement optimal strategies for provider-patient communication. This may include a focus on patient-centeredness of communication, provider communication skills, patient communication skills, or organizational factors influencing the communication at the level of the clinic.
  2. Our second area expands provider-patient communication outside of the clinic by developing and spreading novel communication tools such as patient-facing informatics innovations. Our studies examine the effectiveness for communicating with Veterans and providers using tools such as secure messaging, texting, and computer applications. Studies in this focal area will examine the impact of novel approaches to inform, influence, and motivate Veterans to engage in healthy behaviors.
  3. Finally, our third area focuses on public health communications. The purpose of this type of communication is to inform, influence, and motivate populations to change health behaviors, and deliver and exchange information about system-wide public health priorities such as conditions with high disease burden, rapid outbreak/spread, or significant health risk concerns. Topics include large-scale adverse events, deployment environmental health risks, and health behavior change. Research is needed in this area to optimize best practices regarding communicating information that maximizes Veterans’ trust in VA care, understanding perceptions of potential harm, and encourages Veterans’ self-management and improves the health of Veterans on a population level. As an emerging area of health services research, we aim to further define the field and its application to improving the health of Veterans.

This focal area will also examine what kinds of organizational support are needed to make HC most effective. This includes how to structure care to foster optimal provider communication strategies; how to integrate new technologies into the organizational structure; and how to best deliver public health messages through VA organizational channels. 

HC investigators will work to provide an evidence base and tools for communicating about a range of public health issues, utilizing optimal communication channels such as social media and mobile health platforms, to create effective messaging that empowers Veterans to prioritize their health. 
For questions regarding CHOIR Healthcare Communications Focus work, contact Rani Elwy at Rani.Elwy@va.gov.

HC Steering Committee Members:
A. Rani Elwy, Chair
Barbara Bokhour
Allen Gifford
Keith McInnes
Drew Helmer (WRIISC)
Susan Santos (WRIISC)
Timothy Hogan