Communications in health care improvement - a toolkit Increase your understanding and use of communications to better plan, implement and spread your improvement work

May 2015

What you'll learn

  • Understand how to reach and win the support of the people who are key to your project’s success.
  • Assure yourself, and demonstrate to others, that you are following best practice in communications.
  • See how communications can sustain interest in your project and encourage the spread of innovation and new ways of working.
  • Identify the materials and stories about your project that may help in recommissioning or seeking further funding.

Evidence indicates that considering communications from the beginning to the end of a project could be an important factor in the spread of successful health care improvement.  

By working through the four sections in this toolkit you can reassure yourself that you are following best practice at every point in your project and not missing any important steps. You can also access individual tools, templates and support materials, such as audience mapping or creating messages, as and when needed.

Section 1: Planning for success

This section is all about getting the right foundations in place at the beginning of a project.

There are three parts to this section:

  1. Build your communications team
  2. Identify and prioritise your audiences
  3. Create a simple communications strategy

View this section

Improvement toolkit section 1 image

Section 2: Getting started

This section guides you through how to take the strategic planning from section one and turn it into action.

By working through this section you will:

  1. Create messages for your audiences
  2. Choose the right communications channels
  3. Create a simple communications plan

View this section

Improvement comms toolkit section 2 image

Section 3: Sustaining interest

This third section of communications in health care improvement offers guidance on how to sustain the interest and engagement of your audiences.

By working through this section you will:

  1. be presented with tips and ideas on how to keep your audiences interested and on board with the project
  2. understand the power of storytelling in health care improvement
  3. be able to evaluate and communicate progress to date, and to prepare your communications for the final project stage on spread.

View this section

Improvement toolkit section 3 image

Section 4: Spreading your work

This section focuses on how communications can help spread the learning and ideas generated by your project. 

By working through this section you will:

  1. create a simple communications plan to support your spread work
  2. learn the principles of extending your influence by engaging with networks and policy makers
  3. learn how communications can help build a case for further funding of your improvement work.

View this section

Improvement toolkit section 4 image

Communications toolkit: the evidence

This toolkit draws on the evidence available around communications and its relation to health care improvement, and has used the emerging insights to inform its content and structure.

As a useful summary, an evidence scan, based on 477 empirical research studies and published by the Health Foundation, highlights the following communications approaches as important in the spread of good practice in health care improvement.

View the evidence

Improvement toolkit - evidence image

Communications toolkit: glossary

A helpful list of frequently used words in the communications improvement toolkit and a definition of each term.

View the glossary

Improvement communications toolkit - glossary image

Cite this publication

Communications in health care improvement - a toolkit. The Health Foundation; 2015 (

Further reading


Quality improvement


Improving quality in health care is about making it safe, effective, patient-centred, timely,...

Quick guide

Quality improvement made simple

April 2021
Quick guide

Updated in 2021, this third edition outlines what you need to know about health care quality...


New toolkit helps bring together patients and staff to transform health care

4 June 2014

Patient and Family-Centred Care is a simple, step-by-step method for understanding what a care...

You might also like...


Efforts to improve decision making in mental and community health wins Florence Nightingale Award for Excellence in Healthcare Data Analytics


Florence Nightingale Award for Excellence in Healthcare Data Analytics 2022 award has been given to...


The Plan for Digital Health and Social Care: what will be needed to deliver on its ambitions?


The government’s new Plan for Digital Health and Social Care contains some important ambitions. But...


The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health care 2022


The Health Foundation have a number of speaking sessions at the International Forum on Quality and...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Are you passionate about improving care? As our Programme Manager for the #NetworkedData Lab, you'll lead the devel…

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more