Consider your hospital as an island and on that island lives four different tribes. Each tribe has a different language that they speak. Let’s say that you have a very good idea that will benefit this island, but you need these tribes to collaborate with you. If you do not become fluent in each of the four languages, there is no way that you can persuade the whole island to do what you wish, even if what you wish is best for them. They can’t agree until you answer their questions, and to understand their questions, YOU HAVE TO SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE.
Think of the following as features of your communication with the hospital, conveyed in meetings, presentation, and your business planning/budget…
- Healthcare Funders speak (but not primarily speak) the “Heart”Language– The Heart Language is actually the least spoken language within the funder’s walls (which may be surprising to hear). It tells how we made the world a better place. While it is true that everyone in healthcare speaks this language (you do not go into hospital administration, healthcare foundation management, or medical school unless you care for people), if you speak only to the heart about how you can or are making the world a better place, then you will confuse and frustrate those asking questions in other languages.
While it is important that your effort considers the FACE of those impacted and speak the heart language – patient lives, age, gender, numbers in the community, their stories, what those lives are going through, the responsibility of the hospital for those lives, etc. – It is a big and common mistake for people who serve outside of the healthcare funding arena to approach the funder with funding ideas, conveying the concept mostly with heart messaging.
Tip: Storytelling as Best Practice by Andy Goodman is a helpful resource for telling your organization’s story.
- Healthcare Funders speak the Financial Language– this is an important language and it tells what it cost, what was the return, and when that return came. It is spoken primarily by the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Risk Officer, but every foundation and resource rich environment’s executives speak the financial language. This language is fluent in cost, return, probability of savings, and risk associated with failure. Examples – budget, performance, ROI, and throughput data.
- Healthcare Funders speak the Health Outcomes Language– this language tells us if we improved patient health, where was that improvement, and how we measured that improvement in health outcomes. While this language is primarily spoken by the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer, and Chief Pharmacy Officer, every leader in healthcare funding understands and speaks the health outcomes language. To convey answers in this language, your business plan needs to capture the language. Examples: health impact by disease state, hospital length of stay data, readmissions, etc.
Healthcare Funders speak the Plumbing Language– this is the language that tells us how we improved the health system flow, impacted efficiency, and lowered risk within the healthcare continuum. The language is spoken by the Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Strategy Officer, but again, every leader who controls healthcare resources speaks this language. Those creating a community charity pharmacy have an amazing story about routing avoidable hospital discharges and ED encounters through the charity pharmacy and saving money and resources for the local healthcare community. Leaders who speak this language are always looking for ways to impact the three-legged stool of healthcare – reduce cost, improve patient experience, and increase health outcomes.
A charity pharmacy distribution point has one of the most powerful messages in healthcare that can be conveyed through the four languages. If you become fluent in all four, you have one of the most compelling stories to share in your island.