Published by Allison Strickland at ATStudy Buddy - June 2022
If your organization is just starting to or considering implementing Sway into your concussion management protocols, there are many best practices that you’ll want to consider prior to launching your new policies into action. Having concussion management software, like Sway Medical, protects not only the safety of the athletes but the safety of the athletic trainer and organization personnel from a liability standpoint. Cutting the cord for your old concussion management methods is exciting, but to have a new concussion protocol be successful, best practices should be used to set yourself and your organization up for success. A large part of that success comes from communicating changes early and effectively.
Communication is challenging when there is a broad audience to communicate changes to, as well as finding the right communication style for each group. To communicate your Sway implementation effectively, consider the 3 C’s of communication – Clear, Concise, and Consistent.
Your first goal should be to clearly communicate the change by identifying your key messages. What do you want your audience to remember about your message? Do they have prior knowledge about your message? If not, you’ll want to provide context that will fill in any knowledge gaps. By developing your key messages before you communicate your switch to Sway, focus on what you want to say and how you can make your message clear.
First, notify all relevant stakeholders about all changes that are being made and why. For coaches and athletes, you will want to include the following information:
- Why a baseline test is taken and what purpose it serves (baseline for brain function, balance, etc.)
- How Sway is utilized in making objective decisions
- Why consistent effort is important when taking a baseline assessment
- How to download the free Sway Medical app and use their assigned code
Other healthcare providers that are part of your multi-disciplinary concussion management team should be notified of the changes, including:
- Current concussion laws and best practices for concussion care
- How your concussion protocol works at your organization, including return-to-play and return-to-learn or work
- What reports are available from your assessments
- How to access educational resources for learning about Sway and use report data in practice
Finally, parents of minor athletes should be educated on the importance of Sway as well. Information provided to parents should contain:
- What Sway is and how it works
- How a baseline is used when a concussion is suspected
- What current best practices are for concussion care using the latest technology
- How Sway is HIPAA compliant
- How to help their child download the free Sway app on their phone or tablet
Concise communication requires short, direct messages. While you want to give all the important details and information, strive to say more with less. This increases your chances of getting your message across, especially if you’re communicating via email or over the phone. Keep your message simple and take out any filler. For example, if you’re talking to a coach about implementing Sway, you probably don’t need to go into the same details that you would if you were speaking to your team physician.
Remember, the longer the message the more likely it is that the important details will get lost. You want to highlight what’s important depending on who you are talking to. Being concise may also mean limiting medical jargon that could make your message difficult for a layperson more challenging. Trying to impress someone with flashy words or complicated terminology will only frustrate them. Ask yourself: Do I want to impress this person, or do I want to be heard and well understood? Don’t leave a parent guessing on their child’s head injury because you didn’t communicate your new protocol in a way they could understand.
When communicating consistently, think about two things: frequency and repetition. Don’t be afraid to repeat key details. It’s harder to miss an important point when you hear it or see it several times. You should also be ready to communicate on a regular basis. Change doesn’t happen overnight. When implementing Sway, this may mean sending several messages regarding baseline testing to coaches, parents, and athletes before the baseline test actually take place. Be proactive instead of reactive when communicating your new baseline testing process and we promise, it will go much smoother. You want to work with your stakeholders and empower them, now work against them and set yourself up for failure.
When communicating your organization’s implementation of Sway into your concussion management toolkit, keep these three principles in mind and you’ll be able to effectively convey your message, connect with each audience, and communicate your changes with confidence.