Participants at the 2019 Health Communication Leadership Institute

Think Tank

The Center for Health Communication (CHC) Think Tank is part of the implementation (or practice) arm of the CHC. The Think Tank supports the mission and operations of Dell Medical School and the wider Dell Med community. Essentially, the Think Tank formalizes an informal process of collaboration that is central to the CHC’s goals.

Think Tank Co-Directors Dr. David Ring and Dr. Billy Table understand that to fully view all angles of health issues, scholars and practitioners must bring their knowledge of research and lived experience in healthcare practice to the table. Dr. Ring and Dr. Table provide communication expertise to our colleagues in health care to infuse the Dell Med vision of creating a vital and inclusive health ecosystem. Bringing innovative ideas to practice at an accelerated pace, the Think Tank aims to unpack complex conversations and distill effective and structurally competent applications of “what you could say” and “what you could do.”

How does it work?

The Think Tank exists primarily online as an active email listserv, however, the group meets in-person via Zoom every month to consult on real-world communication issues in practice. Every month, we select submissions from health professional stakeholders and explore their patient-clinician and inter-professional challenges for a Deep Dive discussion. Through Think Tank questionnaires and discussions, our collective of scholars and health professionals offer practical recommendations, share educational materials, and craft messages that stakeholders can implement in practice immediately. The Think Tank aims to be a resource to assist others working in the realm of health communication. Any member of the Think Tank group can use the e-mail listserv to post a health communication query and expect to receive some quick feedback from other members.

Who brings their expertise to the Think Tank listserv and Deep Dives?

Currently, Think Tank members include faculty and staff from the Center for Health Communication, Dell Medical School, Moody College of Communication, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, and School of Nursing. The professionally diverse group also includes a chaplain, a medical illustrator, a family physician, an improv educator, and a host of researchers. What makes this particular collaboration unique is that members are encouraged to respond even to queries outside of their expertise. Clinicians often respond with a patient perspective, and non-academics spark new ideas for the research-minded members.

Who has turned to the Think Tank for consultation?

Collaborations can be within the UT and Dell Med community, across states, or internationally. Existing collaborations include the Patient Safety Committee of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery; Dell Medical School’s Medical Student Professionalism Committee, General Surgery Clerkship, and culture project; Dell Seton Medical Center’s diabetic foot wound project; and UT Health Austin’s Clinical Quality Committee and Musculoskeletal Institute.

In the past, we've addressed topics including:

You can find a sample of our published work here:

How to connect with the CHC Think Tank:

  • To join the listserv, email billy.table@austin.utexas.edu with “Think Tank Add” in the subject line.
  • Submit your difficult conversation to the Think Tank to be the focus of next month’s Deep Dive session.