Step 4: Convene and Disseminate
In addition to determining the stakeholder group membership and structure, State staff and stakeholders must make decisions about the logistics of convening the group and disseminating its products.
Three steps are involved:
- Establish mechanisms and schedules for convening and communicating with stakeholders.
- Generate concrete activities, products, and measurable outcomes.
- Disseminate products and achievements of your stakeholder group widely.
CHIPRA Quality Demonstration State Experiences: Convening Stakeholders
There are many ways to share information. The frequency of meetings and other communications should keep your effort moving forward without overburdening stakeholders. Questions you may want to explore include:
- What legal requirements, if any, exist regarding communications and reports?
- What time constraints of specific stakeholders should you take into consideration during scheduling?
- Given stakeholders’ availability, geographic location, and the availability of funding, when are in-person meetings preferable to virtual meetings via phone or Webinars?
- How many working hours do you estimate it will take to get specific tasks completed?
- What deadlines have to be met, and is there any flexibility in those deadlines?
- How will the need to communicate with stakeholders evolve over the lifetime of the group?
- What communication mechanisms do the stakeholders prefer?
|"One of the things that our team is really cognizant of is time… and we do try to say ‘can we or should we do this by email?’ to make sure that we are using people’s time really wisely."
—Idaho Demonstration Staff
- Match your strategies for sharing information with the purpose of the communication and your stakeholders’ expressed preferences.
- Methods of communication can include email updates, phone calls, Webinar presentations, postcards, and Web site updates, but all communications should be user-friendly and sustainable.
- One possible way to establish a communications strategy is to hire or appoint a specific project manager whose responsibilities include developing a detailed communications plan and scheduling and monitoring progress. Although this may require some additional resources (dedicated time and potentially funding), having a strong manager can make the project operate more efficiently.
- Scheduling meetings for busy stakeholders can be a challenge. To improve the scheduling process, you can try:
- Scheduling meetings at the same time each week, month, or quarter.
- Scheduling meetings far in advance to preclude conflicting commitments among members.
- Scheduling around the known time constraints of stakeholders who are particularly busy or who have strict limits on their availability. It will be important to explain this strategy to the entire group and secure buy-in from all stakeholders so it does not look like some stakeholders are considered more important than others.
- Developing a shared calendar, possibly using electronic scheduling programs.
- Conference calls and Webinars can be effective alternatives to in-person meetings. Use of such technologies can help alleviate common challenges:
- Hosting virtual meetings, or at least providing the option for some stakeholders to virtually attend, ensures that you can include stakeholders regardless of geographic distance.
- Virtual meetings cut down on travel costs, which can be especially problematic in large or sparsely populated areas. However, virtual meetings can impact the group’s camaraderie and cohesion and make it more difficult to hear from all stakeholders equally.
- Alternating between in-person meetings and virtual meetings can help strike the balance between maintaining personal connections and offering convenience.
- The frequency of communication may fluctuate over time.
- There may be periods when the group does not need to communicate frequently. Incorporating these lulls in the schedule can help avoid burnout among your stakeholders.
- In contrast, group members may need to communicate frequently at critical junctures, such as when key products reach the final phases of development.
- Determine when topics would benefit from an interactive discussion among members of the stakeholder group, necessitating a meeting, and when aggregating separate feedback from each member is sufficient.
- Some decisions regarding communication or transparency of the group may be determined by State laws, such as “sunshine laws,” or other regulations originating from your group’s funder or institutional home.
CHIPRA Quality Demonstration State Experiences: Communicating with Stakeholders
Concrete activities, products, and measurable outcomes demonstrate the stakeholder group’s value to the child health community. When generating products and measurable outcomes, consider what the group is capable of accomplishing that would also be useful to the larger community of child health care QI. You may find the following questions helpful:
- Does your goal require specific products or outcomes?
- What products and outcomes would be the most useful for the child health care community?
- How can you verify that end users of these products would find them helpful?
- To whom are you accountable, and what outcomes would they consider a success?
- What can you realistically accomplish with the amount of time, staff, funding, and other resources that are available to you?
- As mentioned previously, the sustainability of a stakeholder group depends in part on its tangible contributions to the field of child health care quality.
- By both generating and disseminating usable products, the stakeholder group will be able to demonstrate the value of stakeholder input to community members, government officials, and policymakers.
- Not only will working with stakeholders to meaningfully contribute to and develop concrete products garner external support, it will also keep the group engaged and motivated.
- To maintain credibility and have the greatest impact, you need to validate the usefulness of products with target audiences and then actively disseminate products to them. This can be accomplished by including end users as stakeholders as well as by consulting them throughout the product’s development.
- Measurable outcomes are not limited to tangible products and may include:
- Influencing the design, implementation, and evaluation of QI activities or shaping relevant State policies.
- Including a certain number or percentage of providers in a learning collaborative.
- Involving health care practices to improve on a specific QI measure.
For the stakeholder group to have an impact, the group’s products and news of its achievements must be disseminated widely to the community, potential funders, or others who could support the work of the stakeholder group in the future. Questions you may want to ask include:
- Which of the external groups you identified in your original environmental scan (Task 1.4) will be interested in the stakeholder group’s products and achievements?
- Who are the important audiences, including national audiences, for the stakeholder group’s achievements?
- Are there other stakeholder groups, community meetings, or other existing structures you can leverage to disseminate the work of the stakeholder group?
- How can you use organizations represented by the stakeholder group as a foundation for disseminating products and describing their value?
- When you establish communication with other stakeholder groups and QI initiatives, you can increase the dissemination of your stakeholder group’s results.
- Use your stakeholders’ networks to engage with other groups.
- Reach out to policymakers and other community leaders that are well-informed about such efforts.
- Connect with national organizations that work on QI for child health care.
- You may want to ask or designate a staff member to serve as a liaison to other stakeholder groups. This liaison may participate in a number of different groups to facilitate the sharing of information and various QI plans.
- Highly visible activities, such as testifying at hearings or a public forum or presenting at a conference, can spread the word about the stakeholder group’s accomplishments. You can also use social media to help promote public awareness of these events.
- Consider developing a marketing communications plan for the group’s products. Developing such a plan may require additional resources, especially if your group does not include someone with relevant experience. It can, however, help ensure that various communications activities are coordinated to achieve a larger effect than would otherwise be possible.
- Piggyback on existing dissemination activities, such as a meeting or conference where child health care entities already convene, to discuss what your group has accomplished.
- Use a Web site or any email lists your stakeholder group has created. You can also ask stakeholders to use the Web sites and LISTSERVs™ of the organizations they represent to disseminate products.