Healthcare is an ever-changing sector, and it’s managed differently around the world. With organizations facing an evolving landscape and new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to connect with colleagues who are navigating the challenges and opportunities of healthcare communication. IABC recognizes this importance with its brand new Healthcare Shared Interest Group (SIG). Healthcare is one of the six SIGs IABC created to provide members with a global community to develop their interests within a specific subject area.
We caught up with Healthcare SIG leaders Phoebe Dey and Robin McCasland, SCMP, IABC Fellow, to hear more about the SIG’s goals and learn how it can enhance a healthcare communicator’s practice.
IABC is thrilled to launch SIGs to allow our global community to connect about the topics that interest them most. What inspired you to become a SIG leader?
Phoebe Dey (PD): Often, when you lead a group of people, it can be one of the best ways to learn. Aside from bringing my own knowledge in healthcare communications, I always appreciate the opportunity to see what others around the world are doing. Those of us who have been in the healthcare field have always recognized its specificity, but the last two years have shone a light on how important (and often life-saving) healthcare communications is. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen communication that can range from good to excellent to not so great. This SIG will be a fabulous forum to connect, learn from others and help each other tackle issues that face this specific industry.
Robin McCasland, SCMP, IABC Fellow (RM): Healthcare is complex, and it’s delivered differently throughout the world. Each country has its own challenges. Yet despite the differences in how our citizens access care, we share common issues. Through our SIG, we can network with other healthcare communication professionals. We can support each other through our challenges and learn from others’ communication successes. I’m excited to see how we will provide additional member value through our new group.
Based on your professional background, what expertise will you bring to your specific focus area as its leader?
PD: I have been in nonprofit healthcare communications for the last 13 years, which will complement Robin’s work in customer-owned health insurance. This allows us to bring a well-rounded perspective to the SIG. Being part of an executive team of a provincial philanthropic healthcare organization, I have had the opportunity to work alongside partners in both the healthcare and research ecosystem.
RM: I’ve been employed for nearly five years with the largest customer-owned health insurance company in the U.S. The company offers a variety of health and life insurance products and related services through its operating divisions and subsidiaries. Previously, I worked for a nationwide health system that includes 60 hospitals and about 550 outpatient centers and additional care sites in several U.S. states.
“It’s a great way to experience the 'I' in IABC by building professional and personal relationships with people we might not meet otherwise. Our discussions can help improve our collective healthcare and communication acumen.”
Why is it important for communication professionals to join a SIG? How can the takeaways from these discussions enhance their day-to-day career?
PD: I am very fond of “borrowing” great ideas from others that could apply to my work. This SIG will make that easy. IABC provides value in a number of ways, and this SIG will segment our work so that we can integrate our new learnings into what we are doing every day. I imagine there will be many questions asked, and we will be able to tap into a global community who will come up with answers and solutions for us all to apply.
RM: It’s a great way to experience the “I” in IABC by building professional and personal relationships with people we might not meet otherwise. Our discussions can help improve our collective healthcare and communication acumen. We can apply what we learn from others to the healthcare initiatives we’re involved with each day.
What is one goal you hope to achieve through the discussions and collaboration with your SIG?
PD: While healthcare systems may differ from country to country, I think there will be a shared understanding of the overall goals communication professionals face every day. I hope through this SIG, people will make connections that will extend beyond this group so participants have their own built-in community of practice when challenges or opportunities arise.
RM: I’d like us all to better understand and appreciate healthcare differences across the globe and how we can support and encourage each other through the healthcare communication challenges we face in our regions of the world.
Get involved! Keep up with the IABC Healthcare SIG and mark your calendars for upcoming events.
Featuring Phoebe Dey and Robin McCasland, SCMP, IABC Fellow
Phoebe Dey is a seasoned communicator with 20 years' experience, the last 12 with the Alberta Cancer Foundation as VP, communications and marketing. She has the pleasure of leading a provincial, IABC Gold Quill and Capital Award-winning team that is responsible for brand, external/internal communication, digital and social media, website development and more (including a revenue portfolio for mass marketing streams). Dey’s key areas of focus include strategic development, relationship building, stakeholder engagement, media relations, crisis communications and telling compelling stories. Previous to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, she worked at the University of Alberta in the Office of Public Affairs, helping to raise its national and international profile. She is currently senior director, membership, for IABC Edmonton and has had the pleasure of co-hosting two IABC World Conferences and chaired webinars, fireside chats and other online gatherings during this COVID world.
Robin McCasland, SCMP, IABC Fellow, has been a passionate advocate for IABC and the communications profession throughout her 30-plus year career. She is currently senior director, corporate communications, for Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Previously she was employed in corporate communications with Tenet Healthcare. McCasland was named an IABC Fellow in 2022. She was honored as IABC Southern Region 2020 Communicator of the Year and in 2021, chosen as one of Ragan/PR Daily's Top Women in Communications in the Leader category. Earlier in her career, McCasland was named an IABC Dallas Communicator of the Year. She is a past IABC chairman and has been a contagiously enthusiastic and committed volunteer at the chapter, district/regional and international levels. McCasland was in the inaugural class of 13 members to receive the Strategic Communication Management Professional certification in 2017. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and a Leadership Texas alum. She also held board roles previously with the Dallas Zoological Society and Keep Texas Beautiful, Inc.