Over the past year, we’ve published several posts that describe how MyPal aims to improve communication between adults, children and young people using digital technology. But, as with many palliative care projects which often have different audiences and messages to convey, how do you achieve that? Gill Macdonald, Communications Manager for MyPal partner organisation, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN), explains how they developed a communications plan to promote a project such as MyPal.
Being new to the world of international palliative care, I wondered how best to approach this blog. Would my relative freshness to the role hinder my insights into an international palliative care project?
However, putting together a communications plan is a bit like a jigsaw. You have all your pieces, and you need to sort the edges from the middle section at the start so you can end up with a complete picture. Whether this is an image of a gondola in Venice or elephants on the African plain, you use the same planned and thought-out method to get there.
MyPal is a European Union-Funded project that aspires to empower people with cancer, living with palliative care needs, and their caregivers. The purpose is to capture their symptoms, communicate them in an effective way to their healthcare team and therefore ultimately improve their Quality of Life (QoL). MyPal uses innovative digital technology to do this through apps for the adults and games for the children and young people.
The apps and the game, which is set in a beautiful underwater world, improve communication between the patients and/or parents by reporting real-time changes in their condition directly to their health professionals. They incorporate electronic Patient Reported Outcome Measures (ePROs), where children and young people report changes in their symptoms and conditions.(1)
The study is still ongoing, and no results have yet been collated, but as part of the communications plan, steps have been put in place from the start of the project to disseminate the results by the ICPCN, the European Association for Palliative Care and Lancaster University. A bit like laying out the edges and the middle parts of your jigsaw right at the beginning.
In communicating outcomes for palliative care projects, such as MyPal. there are a myriad of audiences and messages so the content must be customised for each. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
The channels chosen by the MyPal consortium for dissemination are Facebook, Twitter and ResearchGate. Each platform has its own strengths for talking to different audience groups, with Twitter taking the lead because when using it we can communicate with a wide variety of different groups, organisations and individuals, aiming for immediate, real-time engagement. Next comes ResearchGate which focuses on academic and clinical researchers working in the fields of digital health, cancer and palliative care, and provides a central location for published papers funded by the project. Last comes Facebook, which is principally focused on engaging with patient groups and healthcare professionals.
To conclude, the key to successful promotion is knowing your audience segmentation, planning and researching key platforms, using language that will connect with your audience, monitoring and evaluating your performance as you go along, and not being afraid to adapt your plans should you need to, to increase your reach.
- Meyerheim M, Karamanidou C, Payne S et al. MyPal-Child study protocol: an observational prospective clinical feasibility study of the MuPal ePRO-based early palliative care digital system in paediatric oncology patients. BMJ Open 2021;11:e04526 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/11/4/e045226.full.pdf
- MyPal website.
- Sign up to the MyPal newsletter.
- Follow us on Twitter @H2020MyPal
- Read more posts about MyPal on the EAPC blog.
More about the author…
Gill Macdonald works jointly for two key global palliative care organisations: International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA). Contact Gill by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Julia Downing is the Chief Executive of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) Contact Julia by email: email@example.com