Health Information for Small Businesses and Their Employees

Dissemination Strategies

This Web portal has been established to help businesses quickly access information that may be of interest to them and their employees.

Dissemination Strategies

Opening the Door to Better Health:

The Effective Health Care Program, sponsored by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), provides free, plain-language consumer summaries to help patients and their families make the best possible decisions with their health care providers when considering treatment options for various health conditions.

By spreading the word about this unbiased, evidence-based information, you can help your employees talk with their doctors and compare various treatments' benefits, risks, and side effects. The ultimate goal is one that we can all embrace — to give employees the right tools to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and safety of their health care.

The following strategies offer potential tactics for distributing these valuable publications. These options were developed in consultation with the experts — employers, wellness companies, benefits consultants, and health plan representatives. Please consider which of these strategies would work best for your company as you encourage your employees to access reliable information and take an active role in their health care.

Strategies for Disseminating Objective, Evidence-based Health Information to Employees

(Select items below for details).

  • ExpandableHighlight availability of unbiased health information

    • Promote the Effective Health Care Program on your Web site. Maintain supplies of printed Consumer Research Summaries. (For free guides, contact AHRQ, 1-800-358-9295 or AHRQpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov, and mention order code AHRQ 9-9).
      • Consider an initial announcement about the availability of this material on the home page of your Intranet, using the same approach you use to announce other information you want to call to your employees' attention. You might preface the link with a few sentences about the availability of unbiased information that will help them make decisions about treatment options for a variety of health care conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
        • SAMPLE TEXT:
          We are pleased to provide you with easy access to information that will help you learn more about the treatment options available for several health care conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  The Internet link below also will lead you to guidance on how to ask your doctor questions and to work together to make the best treatment decisions based on your own values, preferences and quality of life goals. (INSERT LINK HERE).
      • If you are planning to announce AHRQ�s new landing page for employers and employees, you could include the message about the consumer guides within that announcement.
        • SAMPLE TEXT:
          We are pleased to tell you about free information available to help you understand a health care condition you or a loved one may have. These Consumer Research Summaries are based on the latest and best research about treatments and other approaches to a sickness or condition. They provide plain-language explanations of the research to help you discuss your treatment options with your doctor, or other members of your health care team. There are several summaries available that focus on a number of health care conditions, such as diabetes, depression and rotator cuff injuries. This list continues to grow, with more topics covered by new summaries. (INSERT LINK HERE).
      • When promoting the consumer summaries, make clear that AHRQ�s growing inventory of consumer summaries includes treatment comparisons for numerous health conditions � from diabetes to rotator cuff injuries, with new summaries on additional conditions continually being developed.
  • ExpandablePromote consumer summaries at events

    • Provide sample consumer summaries at open enrollment, health fairs, and other events. Encourage health plans to provide the publications to health plan enrollees (and make companion clinician summaries available for medical staffs).
      • Order sample brochures from AHRQ (see above) to display during health-care related events at your organization. Summaries can also be printed from AHRQ�s website.
      • Consider setting up a computer at a display table, set to AHRQ�s EHC site so employees can review and scroll through the information.
      • Increase the impact of the summaries by making them part of your communication strategy with employees. For example, one strategy is called PREPARE (Plan, Report, Exchange Information, Participate, Agree, Repeat). In one approach to this method, the summaries would be the focus of the Exchange Information step, and other steps in the strategy would be used to increase employee use of the publications.
  • ExpandableEnhance decision support activities

    • Encourage RNs or other health coaches who staff decision support lines to use AHRQ�s evidence-based consumer summaries when discussing treatment options.
      • Arrange a meeting with decision support line staff to review AHRQ�s EHC materials.
        • Set up a computer and projector to first introduce the staff to the AHRQ web site; Navigate through the various tools and products that are available for consumers and clinicians.
        • Engage your staff in a discussion about how these tools can be used to assist employees when they need more information about their health care treatment options.
        • Be sure that the staff�s ideas are acted upon � making the link and other materials available to them after the discussion meeting.
      • Add AHRQ�s EHC link to the home screen of information used by these staff members to facilitate their easy access to the material while on a call with an employee.
        • The home page of AHRQ�s Effective Health Care program will allow these health coaches to access both information for the clinician and the patient. http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/.
      • Request that these staff members make employees aware of the consumer summaries when one exists for the employee�s condition.
        • Be certain that they have a current list of the consumer summaries for easy scanning when talking with an employee. The most current listing is available on http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/research-summaries-for-consumers-clinicians-and-policymakers/. The summaries are listed on the left side of the table under general headings (e.g., breathing conditions, cancer). The relevant summary can then be opened from this web site. It can be printed and given to the employee, or the summary�s link can be emailed to the employee.
  • ExpandableEngage vendors to promote consumer publications

    • Request that vendors (care coordination, disease management, third party administrators, and health plans) promote the consumer publications through their communications channels, particularly within the care-delivery process (e.g., for prior authorization, disease management, etc.).
      • Arrange a meeting with vendors� staff to review AHRQ�s EHC materials.
        • Set up a computer and projector to first introduce the vendors� staff to the AHRQ web site; navigate through the various tools and products that are available for consumers and clinicians.
        • Engage the vendors� staff in a discussion about how these tools can be used to assist employees when they need more information about their health care treatment options.
        • Be sure that the vendors� staff�s ideas are acted upon � making the link and other materials available to them after the discussion meeting.
      • Suggest that these vendors add AHRQ�s EHC link to the home screen of information used by their staff to facilitate easy access to the material while on a call with an employee.
      • Request that these staff make employees� aware of the consumer guides when one exists for the employee�s condition.
        • Be certain that these staff have a current list of the consumer summaries for easy scanning when talking with an employee. The most current listing is available on http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/research-summaries-for-consumers-clinicians-and-policymakers/. The publications are listed on the left side of the table under general headings (e.g., breathing conditions, cancer). The relevant summary can then be opened from this web site. It can be printed and given to the employee, or its link can be emailed to the employee.
  • ExpandableInitiate community collaboration

    • Sponsor workplace and/or community seminars to educate employees and other citizens about the benefits of evidence-based health information and the availability of the Effective Health Care Program materials.
      • Collaborate with hospitals and other organizations in your community to increase awareness.
        • Sponsor an open house at your organization where staff from hospitals and community health care organizations can learn more about the EHC consumer and clinician publications. Set up a computer linked to the AHRQ�s web page for EHC ( http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/). Set up another computer to run one of AHRQ�s consumer-focused health care videos. For example, one video featuring AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, explains what people can do to make sure they get the most of an appointment with the doctor (for a list of the videos, go to http://www.ahrq.gov/news/av.htm). Order hard copies of AHRQ summaries and other tools in advance to display for visitors to review.
      • Promote the idea of employees taking the publications to medical appointments to help them ask questions and understand their treatment options, even if a treatment decision has already been made.
        • Order hard copies of AHRQ publications for conditions you believe may be common to your employees. Make these available through your human relations department, in your health clinic, and in employee lounge areas. Consider posters in lounge areas and employee cafeterias that also promote employee use of AHRQ tools that will enhance employee participation in their health care.
  • ExpandableShare information

    • Share your dissemination plans with community clinics and other providers. Suggest making consumer and clinician summaries available in physician offices.
      • Think creatively about your use of the summaries with employees. They can be both a comprehension tool to check an individual�s understanding of their health care and a communication tool that employees can use to explain their health care to their families.
      • They can help to prepare your employees before appointments, to help them think about questions they want to ask and write them down, or they may underline the sections in the publication that they want to ask about.
      • Emphasize that AHRQ�s consumer summaries have broad relevance � not only to employees, but to their families and friends. Many publications address health conditions common among aging parents. Promote the idea that employees can use and share the information with family members to assist with their own health care decisions.
  • ExpandableEncourage employee engagement

    • Think creatively about dissemination. Would employees respond to a promotional flyer? Would employee testimonials about the guides fit in the company newsletter? Would a link to the guides fit on the company Web site?.

The potential of these consumer guides to improve health care decisionmaking is significant, and we deeply appreciate your help in expanding the effort to get consumers more involved in their care. We would like to learn more from you about helping employers improve health care quality for employees. If you would like to share your experiences, please e-mail EHCforBusiness@AHRQ.hhs.gov.


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Page last reviewed March 2012
Internet Citation: Health Information for Small Businesses and Their Employees: Dissemination Strategies. March 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/care-planning/plans/employeehcinfo/dissemination.html