Best Print Publication

Kaiser Permanente uses history, employee story ideas to spur innovation and pride

Kaiser Permanente’s print newsletter editors want history-conscious employees who obsess about remaking work processes to improve patient care at KP clinics and hospitals. Here’s how they do it.

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The co-winner in the Best Print Publication category of Ragan’s 2013 Health Care PR and Marketing Awards is the Procurement & Supply communications team at Kaiser Permanente and its newsletter, The Source.

Employees in Kaiser Permanente’s Procurement & Supply organization wanted more success stories in The Source about their own departments. They wanted more about the work improvements and reforms begun by colleagues, because they wanted to learn from them.

Kaiser Permanente editors came up with an imaginative idea: They juxtaposed a much older story from the KP archives about work process innovations at next to a current story about the same subject. Then they appealed to employees for story ideas, asking that all team members be mentioned by name in the submitted story ideas.

This appeal caught fire, engaging the entire Procurement & Supply workforce. The employee response was “overwhelming,” and so many ideas poured in that the editors set up a special blurb news section for process-improvement story ideas warranting shorter treatment.

Employees had asked in a reader survey to “get to know our colleagues and leaders better,” and to read more about Kaiser Permanente’s history. The editors did all this on a production budget of only $4,000.

The editors placed print copies of The Source in common areas and on bulletin boards, and published an electronic version of it. They asked for feedback, and papered the premises with posters asking the question, “Have You Gotten The Source?”

The results have been far-reaching:

  • In a 2012 survey, 87 percent of respondents said they were familiar with and read The Source. That figure rose to 91 percent in 2013.
  • Employees said they understand better how their work contributes to Kaiser Permanente’s larger goal of better patient care because of The Source.
  • They know more about the work of other departments and feel better appreciated because of The Source.
  • Employees have filled the “blurbs” section for ideas with reports of innovation in their departments. Some of these short items beg for longer stories to be written about them.
  • The whole newsletter seems to have infused a culture of thinking about one’s job, experimentation, and expanded collaboration throughout the Procurement & Supply organization.

The Procurement & Supply communications staff members at Kaiser Permanente who introduced this idea-digest newsletter to the world include Juan Aguilar, Michael Easterling, Maren Dale, Esperanza Garcia, Laurie Spoon, and Marion White. Congratulations on a superlative job.

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