After coming through the challenging period of the pandemic and coming to grips with the severe ongoing access and flow crisis in our emergency departments, DalEM’s Executive Council (ADEMEC) determined it was necessary to improve the department’s communications. ADEMEC’s members felt it would be important to improve communications both internally and externally, to prevent “grapevine” miscommunication and to enhance the department’s outward-facing presence.

In October 2022, ADEMEC approved the use of non-renewable Dalhousie funding to engage a communications consultant to help the department develop a strategy to chart a path forward with respect to communications. DalEM engaged Melanie Starr to help lead this process.

An extensive engagement process took place across the department (HI, IWK and Saint John) to gather varied viewpoints through focus groups and a review of existing documents and practices. Coming out of these sessions, Melanie prepared a strategy document to help the department determine what to tackle and to offer a roadmap to improved communications. As the department has limited funds to support these efforts, we undertook an approach that would allow the greatest impact in the least amount of time.

The communications strategy identified internal communications as the most urgent priority. The department has undertaken the following initiatives to date:

  • a DalEM SharePoint site is now up and running to serve as a common platform for all departmental internal communications and information-sharing
  • a departmental style guide has been developed and is now available on the SharePoint site to help ensure consistency across communications vehicles
  • the department head has launched a monthly video blog to share updates, information and points of interest with all members of the department
  • a collection of more up-to-date still photography and video imagery is being developed as a communications resource for the department
  • the first issue of a quarterly departmental research newsletter, DalEM Research Focus, is now in circulation (and available on the SharePoint site) and the second issue is in the works
  • a more general department newsletter, DalEM Quarterly Review, was launched and this is the first issue!
  • the department conducted a survey of members’ satisfaction with communications in the department, to establish a baseline that will allow us to gauge the success of our efforts to improve communications. As expected, the results of the survey were not great, with the department scoring 3.06 out of 5 overall. Several areas of emphasis, including internal communications and the website, rose to the forefront and helped to focus our efforts further. The department will continue to develop the new internal communications tools and share them widely across the department. This means we would like your input, ideas, stories, images, input and feedback to help make these new tools better.

Work will begin later this fall to revamp external communications, starting with our DalEM website. This effort will build on the work completed to develop our internal communications and result in a more engaging and appealing external-facing platform. As we move into 2024, the department will also look to produce a high-production-value annual report and a flagship video for the entire department to share the great work of our physicians, residents and staff.

Screenshot of the DEM Sharepoint Site