Questions about the Toolkit
- What is the Employee Health Communication Toolkit?The Communication Toolkit is a set of written materials designed to help consumers:
- Seek and identify good quality health care.
- Make better health care decisions.
- Be more informed and involved in their health and health care.
The Toolkit also includes guidance to help employers, health care purchasers, insurers and health plans, and other organizations use these materials to communicate with their employees or members.
Review the materials for consumers.
Review the guidance on how to use these materials.
This free resource was developed by American Institutes for Research with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
- What topics are covered by the materials for consumers?The consumer materials consist of documents that are grouped into five topic areas:
- Who can use the Employee Health Communication Toolkit?The Toolkit is available to any organization that is interested in communicating with consumers about health care quality, evidence-based health care, making wise use of health care resources, and the importance of being informed and engaged consumers. Organizations can adapt the materials to suit their needs or use them largely “as is.” The Toolkit has been used successfully by employers, purchasing organizations, insurers, and others. Read more about their experiences in the “Users’ Stories” section .
- How can the Employee Health Communication Toolkit help me?As an employer or purchaser of health care benefits, you are well-positioned to communicate critical information and to articulate specific actions that your employees or members can take to choose good care, manage their lifestyle, and make wise use of health care resources. The Communication Toolkit can help you do this by giving you tested, proven materials along with tips and guidance based on the experiences of other organizations. Benefits to using the Communication Toolkit include:
- The Toolkit helps you communicate confidently and effectively with your employees or members. The materials were developed with input from key stakeholders (employers, unions, purchasers, consumers) and have been tested extensively. Thanks to this testing, the materials can help you avoid pitfalls when communicating about potentially sensitive topics like health care quality, personal responsibility, and the wise use of resources.
- The Toolkit gives you a head start in communicating. There’s no need to develop materials from scratch. The Toolkit also contains real-world guidance and tips based on the experience of other organizations that have used the Toolkit.
- The Communication Materials are flexible – and easy to adapt and use. The materials can be used in many ways to fit your communication goals, employee or member population, and available resources. You can share the materials with your employees or members “as is” or adapt them to fit your organization’s specific needs.
- Who developed the Employee Health Communication Toolkit?American Institutes for Research (AIR), a not-for-profit research organization in Washington, DC, developed the original Toolkit in collaboration with McGee & Evers Consulting Inc., Vancouver, WA, and the National Business Group on Health. Funding for the Toolkit and subsequent updates came from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), an independent philanthropy committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of Aligning Forces for Quality.
- When you say that organizations can “adapt” the materials, what does this mean?The Communication Materials are designed so that you can customize them as much or as little as you’d like. If you don’t want to adapt the materials extensively, there are just three things you need to do:
- Delete or customize the yellow highlighted sections of the document.
- Replace the sample photographs.
- Include an acknowledgment of the source of the materials: “These materials were adapted from the Employee Health Communication Toolkit that was developed by American Institutes for Research with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”
If you want to customize the materials further, review this guidance on how to use the Communication Materials.
You can also see examples of how other organizations have adapted the materials.
- Do I have to use all of the Communication Materials?You can use as many or as few of the different documents as you would like. Each of the documents has been designed to stand alone, so you can distribute them individually or as a group. If you are going to distribute multiple documents, consider starting with the materials included in Tips for your health care appointment and Finding trustworthy health information on the internet. These materials are the easiest for consumers to understand and use – and they give people help with tasks that are important to them. You can help your audience by starting with these materials before moving on to topics that may be more difficult to understand – such as making wise use of health care resources.
- Do I have to acknowledge the source on the materials that I adapt from the Toolkit?Although you are free to adapt the Employee Health Communication Materials however you would like, we ask that you acknowledge the source by including the following statement in your materials: “These materials were adapted from the Employee Health Communication Toolkit that was developed by American Institutes for Research with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”
- Are there any restrictions about how I use the Communication Materials or where I post them?No. You may use and distribute the Communication Materials in the way that best meets the needs of your audience, as long as you appropriately acknowledge the source.
Questions about distributing the materials
- What is the best way to distribute the Communication Materials?The best way for you to distribute your materials will depend on:
- The format you choose for the materials.
- The characteristics of the population you are trying to reach.
Think carefully about your audience and the most appropriate ways to reach them: in print, in person, online, or a combination. Also consider how you will publicize your materials. Some ideas include newsletter articles (online or in print), email communications, employee fairs, messages from company leadership, social media (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Twitter), message boards, intranet sites, and/or presentations.
Learn more about distributing the Communication Materials.
- When is the best time to distribute the Communication Materials?The best time to distribute the Communication Materials will vary by organization. Some organizations prefer to distribute the materials during times of the year when employees are likely to want and pay attention to the information, such as during open enrollment. Other organizations may wish to space out the distribution of the materials throughout the year.Communication is most effective when it is an ongoing campaign rather than a one-time event. Because of this, we recommend building in opportunities to reinforce the communication materials with follow-up communications that reiterate key messages and information. Learn more about distributing the Communication Materials.
Questions about cultural issues
- Are the Communication Materials available in other languages?Not at this time. If you are interested in translating the materials, we recommend that you review this government website, which provides guidelines and recommendations for translation and cultural adaptation. Although these guidelines focus on survey translation, the principles apply more broadly: Translating CAHPS Survey Materials.
- How do I make sure my materials are culturally sensitive?It is important to keep your intended audience in mind as you plan and develop your communications. Think carefully about the people you are trying to reach and their characteristics, including education level, age, race/ethnicity, primary language, and health status. Learn how characteristics of your audience can affect your communications.
To help ensure that the materials are appropriate and well understood, one of the most useful things you can do is to get feedback early in the process from members of your intended audience. Ask them to review drafts of the materials and to provide comments and suggestions for improvement. Learn more about how to get feedback from your audience in customizing the materials.
Questions about assessing your efforts
- How do I know whether the Communication Materials are “working” (i.e., having an effect?)It can be difficult to quantify the impact that your communications are having on your employees/members. One of the first things you can do is to understand whether people are actually accessing your materials. For example, if you have posted the materials to your website, you can track the number of times the site is viewed or the number of times the materials are downloaded. If you distribute print materials at a presentation, you can note how many sets of materials are taken. Learn more about evaluating your communication efforts.
- What if I have a comment, suggestion, or question about the Toolkit?If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, please send an email and let us know who you are, what company you are from, and the nature of your request.