Are poor healthcare communications making you sick?

frustratedcustomer1Have you seen the ads that healthcare companies are airing on TV? They feature soothing music and heartwarming customer stories about the personal attention they’ve received from the company’s representatives. The message is pretty hard to miss: “We’re not just another huge, faceless corporation. We really care about you.”

Despite those tug-at-the-heartstrings ads, American consumers’ perception of the healthcare industry is largely negative. Most of us dread having to interact with our health plan providers. That’s because the industry suffers from serious communication problems.

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Streamlining Democracy: Mapping solutions for government policies and procedures


As we celebrate President’s Day in the US this week I cannot help but think about how lucky we are to have the right to vote for our President here in the US. It is a right that many envy, worldwide. Every US President we have elected has been chosen by the people. People who come out, stand in line, and cast their vote.

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Prepared for the Worst: Energy Emergency Documentation Can Save the Day

energy emergencyWatching the confusion caused by the Super Bowl power outage reminded me that we all need to be prepared to deal with unexpected interruptions to our electrical service. I was reminded of this again this weekend, when my lights went out as a blizzard blanketed New England with over two feet of snow.

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3 Mistakes for Technical Communicators to Avoid



2013 is well under way now, and it’s shaping up to be an exciting year for technical communicators. Judging by the constant buzz and the sheer volume of banter and bickering on the profession’s favorite discussion forums, this is a great time to be a writer. And the ever-growing amount of content that organizations need to capture and control offers a new Golden Age of opportunity for those with the skills and savvy.

But, as always, the pitfalls are still there. Here are three mistakes you'll want to avoid making during the coming months.


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The Big Payoff - Managing Financial Regulatory Documentation


Did you follow the news stories from last week’s World Economic Forum? 2500 of the world’s top bankers and financial managers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, where they spent a lot of time discussing the challenges posed by increasing regulatory scrutiny. The big financial institutions are reluctantly bracing themselves to cope with more oversight.

I’m ambivalent about this. I hate the idea of being burdened with additional charges and fees, which is how some big financial services organizations will get consumers like me to pay their costs of compliance. But I like the other potential outcome, which is that the banks may be compelled to seek out ways to operate more efficiently.

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Plain Language and Information Mapping: Clarifying the Connection

PL reflection


Interest in plain language is on the rise. Recent sessions of our Writing in Plain Language webinar have been very well attended, and not just by employees at federal agencies trying to implement the Plain Writing Act. Nowadays many attendees are from the private sector.

During the webinars, I’m often asked, “What’s the connection between Information Mapping and plain language?” It’s a good question, and my answer is, “They’re one and the same.”

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Operating Efficiency: It’s Money In Your Pocket


Have you ever been surprised and delighted to find a long-forgotten twenty dollar bill in the pocket of an old coat? The good feeling was way out of proportion to the amount of money you found, wasn’t it? Serendipity is a wonderful thing. But twenty bucks is small change compared to the unexpected dividends that can result from improving your organization’s operating efficiency. Have you experienced that kind of serendipity?

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To Map or Not to Map? That is the question…


Champions of the Information Mapping® methodology often scorn the suggestion that any written material might not benefit from a good dose of the Method. We understand why. Learning to Map made your life a little crazy, didn’t it? You became allergic to unclear writing. You couldn’t look at a document without thinking about how you’d chunk and organize its content. Maybe you even decided to Map everything you write. We love your enthusiasm, but the truth is that not everything needs to be Mapped, or even should be.

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3 Reasons Why You Absolutely Need to Improve Operating Efficiency in 2013


2013 will be here soon, and one way or another it’s going to be a memorable year. It probably won’t be an easy one. Organizations in most sectors face many uncertainties as they plan for the coming year. Here are three compelling reasons why you should be thinking now about ways to improve operating efficiency.

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Is “increasing operating efficiency” just about cutting costs?


Remember when quality improvement and the quest for operational excellence were on everyone’s minds? Things have changed. Nowadays when managers talk about increasing operating efficiency it’s usually just code for “cutting costs.” All too often they accomplish this by eliminating jobs, curtailing customer service and raising the prices of goods and services, often with accompanying reductions in quality.

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