Good communication helps in all aspects of life, whether it is personal or professional. Having strong communication in healthcare is especially important, no matter what your role is in the industry, and here’s why.
Communication in healthcare: An overview
Taking good care of patients requires more than just making a diagnosis and performing medical procedures. As a healthcare professional, you’ll have the privilege of meeting and caring for individuals going through one of the most challenging periods of their lives. It is your responsibility to assist them medically and provide emotional support to ease their recovery. You can only understand their thoughts and feelings through proper interaction. Thus, creating meaningful connections and deeper bonds via good communication is essential.
So, whether you’re learning to become a specialist or wondering if you can get a doctorate in nursing, the first soft skill you must master is the art of communicating effectively. It is a crucial component in every step of the healthcare process. From sharing accurate patient information with the staff and faculty to discussing and planning an appropriate treatment procedure, communication is a prerequisite for any healthcare organization to thrive and grow. That said, let’s break things down further for your understanding.
Inter and intrahospital communication
One of the most valid reasons any healthcare facility requires a strong communicative structure is patient well-being and safety. A recent report suggested that 1,744 deaths were caused by miscommunication among healthcare workers over the last five years. Healthcare service providers could have avoided losses worth $1.7 billion in malpractice lawsuits had they communicated better.
These statistics show that communication errors can put the lives of patients at stake and have severe consequences. This fact alone is enough reason to establish proper communication channels both inter and intrahospital to ensure no such tragedies happen.
Intrahospital communication refers to the sharing and transmission of information between the personnel of a single healthcare facility. It could involve the transfer of patient details, coordinating room changes, scheduling further surgeries or appointments, and assigning tests.
The efficiency of the entire process is affected when these details aren’t communicated accurately and swiftly among clinical and non-clinical staff. Delay in the transfer of patient records and lack of procedural coordination puts the patient’s health at risk and can lead to unnecessary damage.
The transmission of information between multiple sites is called interhospital communication. These sites can be facilities owned by one particular organization or different healthcare facilities.
Moving patients from one facility to another is no easy task. From transferring patient records and their medical history to transporting all the vital medical equipment, it is necessary to perform every step performed with caution and accuracy.
Even the smallest of errors can have life-threatening consequences. Often patient files go missing because of poor interhospital communication. As a result, duplicate tests and second opinions cause a delay.
This delay affects the hospital financially and causes an unnecessary delay in the patient’s treatment. Hence, multiple healthcare teams working on the same patient must overcome communication barriers between two or more separate facilities.
Communication with patients
The quality of the relationship between patients and their care provider can be very therapeutic for the patient. It can have a significant impact on the outcome of the treatment.
While most believe that a doctor’s job is solely to treat and diagnose, this couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Physical and mental well-being go hand in hand, so emotional support is as crucial as medical assistance.
As a healthcare professional, practicing empathy should be your priority. Each day, you’re bound to come across several patients with their unique needs and circumstances. You must create a safe space where your patient feels comfortable enough to express their fears and concerns to you as a nurse, physician, or another medical professional.
Some patients may even have cultural and religious beliefs they’d want you to keep in mind while treating them. Adequate communication is required to understand each patient’s situation and to draft a treatment plan that works comfortably for both doctor and patient.
As a good healthcare professional, you must be ready to observe complete transparency with your patient. This means being vocal and honest even when there are difficult decisions to make.
Once you’ve informed them thoroughly about their situation and available treatment option, give your patient the space to make their own decision. When patients know their opinion holds value, they feel more committed and involved in the process. Having a brief idea of what the future holds reduces the patient’s fear and enhances satisfaction, self-confidence and gives them a sense of control.
Effective healthcare communication skills to master
Effective communication is complex, but you can hone it with patience and consistency like any other soft skill. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you learn to communicate with co-workers and patients in a healthcare facility.
- Verbal communication: Speak with clarity, accuracy, and honesty. Avoid medical jargon and speak appropriately according to your patient’s age, gender, culture, and literacy level.
- Non-verbal healthcare communication: Use facial expressions, gestures, and body language to make your patient feel welcome and comfortable. Smile when talking and show that you’re equally engaged in the conversation.
- Listen actively: Create a comfortable space where your patient can be vocal and voice their opinion. It is crucial to hear their fears and concerns to proceed in a manner that makes them comfortable. Actively listening and learning about their experience allows you to nurture a healthy caregiver-patient bond.
- Patient education: Counselling patients and their family members are crucial to ensure adherence to treatment protocols and instructions. This process includes educating patients regarding their health condition, diagnosis, treatment plan, and medication. If the patient and their family aren’t fully aware of the circumstances, they may feel anxious and defensive.
- Cultural awareness: On a day-to-day basis, you will deal with people from a wide variety of social, cultural, and educational backgrounds. This includes patients as well as co-workers. Being aware and respectful of their beliefs is crucial to creating a friendly work environment.
Communication is the cornerstone of our interaction with people and a significant part of the health care process. With good communication policies in place, healthcare facilities and organizations can help build an environment that encourages patient well-being and fosters a healthy bond between colleagues and workers. This article also mentions a few skills healthcare providers should consider honing to share information.