“Healthy” Communication Ways

We are together in another post. As promised in the last issue, we will talk about healthy communication today.

We are together in another article. As we promised in the last issue, today we will talk about health communication. Communication services provided by health institutions and organizations from their own bodies or shaped by independent agencies, roughly speaking, is the process of public awareness and evaluation of the public’s demands. On the other hand, it is introducing the service provided by the health institution to the public. At this point, we would like to mention a number of issues.

According to our impressions, many health administrators frequently state that there are deficiencies in services in the field of communication. However, when explaining these, they get stuck on subjective factors and details that are not of fundamental importance. At the core of the issue lies social perceptions. One of the best examples of this is preventive health services. It is seen that health expenditures in developed Western countries have been shifted to this area to a significant extent. Although there are efforts in this direction in our country, social prejudices have not been overcome yet.

Here is a ridiculous example we heard from public relations units: When a person who has a check-up finds out that he does not have any disease, that is, when he gets a positive result, he declares that he finds this service unnecessary (“I wish I hadn’t done it!”). The reflection of this lack of perspective in health institutions is the focus on short-term gains and a result- and treatment-oriented situation emerges.

Health communication specialists have to produce extra value by overcoming these negative conditions in their work. For this, health communication specialists must have sectoral experience and know the field – the kitchen of the business, so to speak. The communication specialist should speak the same language as the health institution. For example, knowing the differences between internal and surgical branches, or knowing the difference between ‘kvc’ and cardiology, etc. will make the work of the health communicator more practical. In this respect, it can be seen from here that the health sector differs from communication services. While creativity is the main value-generating dimension of communication in the market, knowledge of the field and society is much more important in health. Demand for health services is affected by seasonal factors as well as economic and demographic variables. A good knowledge of the field is perhaps the prerequisite for evaluating many factors in our communication activities. Health institutions sometimes experience dissatisfaction with the agency services they receive.

As far as we have observed as health communicators, agency employees may not be able to give the necessary confidence as well as the problems caused by not speaking the same language as the health institution and its managers. Agency staff should be chosen from people who have worked in the health sector as much as possible, and frequent expert replacement should be avoided during the consultancy processes, aside from reasons such as fatigue and boredom. Communication specialists should know the legal responsibilities of the health institution and should be mature enough to leave no room for doubt. The ethical dimension of the issue is important not only for social benefit or legal obligation, but also for the medium and long-term gains of the institution (institutionalization, etc.).