Engaging Provincial Stakeholders: A Strategic...

For a PDF copy of the report, please email Joanne Hritzuk at cuisr.oncampus@usask.ca

Against the background of a growing Saskatchewan population and an evolving health care environment, the Department of Pediatrics partnered with Community-University Institute for Social Research (CUISR), University of Saskatchewan, in order to develop a strategic communications plan that would expand the Department of Pediatrics brand provincially and effectively engage multiple off-campus partners.

The Department of Pediatrics at the College of Medicine provides comprehensive patient care services in a wide range of subspecialties to children and adolescents throughout the province. Additionally, the department is engaged nationally through, for example, its active membership in the Canadian Association of Pediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) whose annual conference the department will be hosting in 2017. The year 2017 will also see the scheduled completion of the province’s first ever Children’s Hospital, which will have the capacity to serve approximately 40,000 children and adolescents annually. By forging and deepening its strong community relationships and partnerships, the department can further expand its child advocacy efforts through collaboration and knowledge translation.

In achieving its mission, the department is supported by a number of partnerships, which include:
• Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan
• Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
• Northern Medical Services
• Saskatoon Health Region
• Saskatoon Tribal Council
• The Arthritis Society
• The Canadian Diabetes Association
• The Lung Association of Saskatchewan

After the literature review and environmental scan, findings from key informant consultations and a SWOT analysis are reported, all of which help shape the strategic communications plan, its objectives, audiences, messages, strategy, and measures of success. Appendix A compares the online communications effectiveness of pediatric departments across Canada; Appendix B includes an assessment of the economic impact of endowed chairs in pediatrics.

The literature review refers to an Innovation Saskatchewan Report completed in 2010 that identifies ‘Health’ as a latent sector in Saskatchewan. The report concludes that a connection created between health and agriculture could provide an innovative approach to economic development and create shared value for rural and urban communities. As well, a brand new state-of-the-art Health Sciences building further adds to the capacity of the province and lends itself to the advance of pediatric health care in the province.

Community leaders, faculty, employees, partners, and other community groups with a direct involvement in the health care industry were all represented in key stakeholder consultation meetings. A summary of the results and key insights that emerged from the consultations include:
• Build on the culture of collaboration within the department
• Apply real-time data and analytics to measure the effectiveness of patient-oriented research
• Proactively address social determinants
• Engage communities, and improve health equity provincially, especially in rural and northern communities
• Strengthen partnerships provincially, nationally, and internationally
• Increase knowledge translation and leverage the diversity of the province to improve the health of children and adolescents
• Expand child advocacy throughout Saskatchewan
• Capitalize on opportunities to invest in human resources

The objectives of the department’s strategic communications plan were derived from the situation analysis, in particular, the key stakeholder consultations. Understanding both stakeholder and front-line worker needs can help contribute to the sustainability of health care in Saskatchewan through incorporating valuable feedback into programs to improve their quality and effectiveness. The department’s objectives include:
• Engage Saskatchewan communities
• Increase brand awareness provincially, nationally, and internationally
• Strengthen relationships with new and existing partners
• Expand child advocacy efforts in Saskatchewan
• Proactively focus on addressing the social determinants of health
• Build on the department’s culture of collaboration
• Enhance department efficiencies through investment

Furthermore, multiple target audiences have been identified in order to achieve the main objectives of the strategic communications plan with an emphasis on increasing the frequency of two-way communication between the department and each target audience:
• Rural and urban Saskatchewan residents
• Current and potential employees
• Current and potential community partners
• Policy makers
• Funders/donors
• Media

The vision of the Department of Pediatrics is to improve the health of Saskatchewan children in a family-centred environment, train the next generation of pediatricians to the highest standard, and create groundbreaking research. The mission of the Department of Pediatrics is to raise the standard of health care, especially for vulnerable children and adolescents, in Saskatchewan through research, knowledge translation, teaching, collaboration, and advocacy. This will be accomplished collectively through continuous engagement and communication with our valued partners, stakeholders, employees, and communities.

The following key messages were constructed based on the outcomes of the situation analysis, in particular the key stakeholder consultations where social responsibility was a common theme:
• The Department of Pediatrics at the University of Saskatchewan is the most trusted adviser on matters of child and adolescent health in Saskatchewan and a champion of child advocacy.
• The Department of Pediatrics is committed to expanding child advocacy and advancing pediatric health care in Saskatchewan through strong partnerships.
• The Department recruits, trains, and retains the best people for Saskatchewan health.
• The Department is committed to delivering and advancing the highest quality pediatric health care in Saskatchewan.
• The Department is leading a collaborative, learning culture among partners and communities, and building internal and external capacity for excellence in patient care, teaching, and research outcomes in Saskatchewan.
• The Department is investing in healthy children and community futures for the long-term sustainability of Saskatchewan research and health care.
• The Department demonstrates its social responsibility by actively addressing the cost of poverty to improve health equity provincially.
• The Department is investing in research for healthy Saskatchewan children, communities, and economies.
• The Department is implementing real-time data and analytics to programs for sustainable, cost-effective programs and policies.

In fulfilling the department’s mission, the strategy and tactics used are centred on increasing community engagement and brand awareness, strengthening new and existing partnerships, and expanding child advocacy efforts through collaboration with partners and similar organizations whose vision and mission aligns with that of the departments.

First, traditional and social media should be further explored to increase engagement with diverse community groups. An annual two-day dinner in Regina could be established, which would bring together many partners and key stakeholders to share success stories and discoveries, as well as exchange and disseminate information. In addition, using powerful social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, can help to communicate stories and messages to a broad audience.

Second, investing in research, human resources, and training would be valuable for building on the strength of the culture of collaboration within the department. Offering incentives and scholarships to top faculty, researchers, and students will help with recruiting and retaining top talent.

Third, becoming a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) SUPPORT Unit and engaging in patient-oriented research will help to better understand patients and their health status. Implementing and benchmarking research and patient programs could help to raise the standard of pediatric health care through both continuous goal setting and quality improvements to programs. It is crucial that all programs are measured with relevant and focused metrics, striving for cost-effective and sustainable programs.
Lastly, investing in research and equipment, including proven technologies, can increase department efficiencies. Research could create more department efficiencies through project discoveries and innovation advancements (see Appendix B for the economic impact of creating endowed chairs in pediatrics).

Many opportunities exist to develop and build strong community partnerships with companies in the province who have a particular interest in health care and social opportunity. In this context, key infrastructure is already in place, including the new Health Sciences building, the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron, the National Research Council, the Cyclotron, and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac), and the soon-to-be Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan. Investing in patient services, community futures, research and development, commercialization projects, and technology infrastructure will increase Saskatchewan’s competitive advantage, while helping to fulfill the mandate of the Department of Pediatrics.

Klimosko, Kris and Marjorie Delbaere, Isobel M. Findlay. (2015). Engaging Provincial Stakeholders: A Strategic Communications Plan for Department of Pediatrics. Saskatoon: Community-University Institute for Social Research.