Effective communication among healthcare professionals can foster teamwork, increase confidence in decisions made and foster meaningful work relationships – yet many healthcare organizations struggle with how best to facilitate such dialogue.
Communications leaders can take several steps to enhance their communication strategies, such as streamlining channels, keeping it simple and speaking plain language.
Streamline Your Channels
Communication breakdown between healthcare workers can lead to costly medical errors that jeopardize patient health, according to one recent study. Accordingly, this miscommunication costs hospitals billions each year and requires improving internal communication strategies as an essential means to reducing medical error risks and creating optimal working conditions.
Communication issues within healthcare can often stem from fragmentation between departments and employees, with separate departments employing differing systems for communicating between them or simply being unable to quickly exchange ideas within a busy working environment.
Physicians seeking more information about test results might need to reach out to multiple individuals at once in the hospital, while nurses could serve as go-betweens when connecting with physicians for consultations about patients’ cases. A lack of communication may even result in patients being given incorrect treatment advice or medication prescription.
As an alternative to pagers, which remain an increasingly prevalent practice within healthcare facilities, medical professionals would do well to adopt team communications apps as an efficient means of communication among themselves and with patients from anywhere and any device. Such apps offer features such as message delivery confirmation so recipients know when they have received all needed information.
Also, these apps have proven invaluable in helping healthcare professionals save time by responding to emails during downtimes instead of waiting on calls to return calls. Furthermore, many team communication apps feature document collaboration features which may prove especially helpful when conducting medical research or other projects.
Healthcare facilities can be high-stress environments that demand quick-paced working environments, making it essential that staff have easy access to all the information needed for effective job performance. This means having an effective system in place for notifying everyone of important company announcements – an issue in some medical facilities where their PA system might not be loud enough or it takes too long for employees to receive that message – potentially becoming problematic during emergency situations like Code STEMI, Code Blue or COVID prone positioning teams where every second counts.
Keep It Simple
Healthcare organizations with multiple channels of communication and an abundance of details to cover can sometimes lose track of important details, leaving crucial ones unsaid or misunderstood. It’s therefore essential that channels remain clear and open in order to minimize misinterpretation of messages and give all team members access to all necessary data to perform their duties efficiently.
Internal communication involves clearly conveying goals and expectations to employees. This can be accomplished in formal settings like meetings and training seminars, or more casual environments like informal lunches or hallway conversations. By streamlining these dialogues efficiently, internal communications can help reduce miscommunication risk while creating an atmosphere in which everyone understands what their role entails.
Healthcare organizations must also make policies, procedures and compliance regulations accessible for employees in an easily comprehensible way. Documenting them in a policy manual is beneficial in quickly retrieving the necessary information when needed by employees. Documenting patient records and charts correctly is also crucial as errors could have serious repercussions for patients; providing training on tools and techniques available will streamline these processes further.
Healthcare workers should strive to communicate effectively with their patients. Open dialogue can reduce anxiety and enhance quality care and outcomes for all parties involved – this means greeting patients by name, making eye contact and acknowledging family or friends present in the room. Utilizing an effective communication framework such as the “AIDET (Acknowleince, Introduce Duration Explanation Thankyou) can also help ensure patients feel understood and valued.”
Healthcare industries must invest both time and resources in effective internal communication to minimize miscommunication costs – both financial and health-wise. By improving processes in place and keeping all team members updated with information that has become available since their last update, healthcare organizations can work towards closing any gaps and giving patients the best treatment.
Keep It Personal
Effective communication between patients and physicians is vital in healthcare facilities of all kinds. According to FierceHealthcare, poor doctor-patient communication has been tied to up to 1,744 patient deaths and $1.7 billion in malpractice costs over five years alone, as reported.
Modern technology has made it much simpler for healthcare professionals to improve their communication methods with patients. Now, patients have access to their doctors through multiple channels including email, text messages, telephone calls and video conferences – providing these channels of communication makes it more convenient for patients to stay in contact and educate them on health and wellness matters.
However, it’s essential that medical professionals remember their patients may find these types of communications disconcerting or confusing and remain respectful of their sensibilities when communicating using technical terms or jargon that could mislead or cause misinterpretation. Furthermore, physicians must refrain from engaging in body language that deters patients from asking questions (for instance by shaking their heads side to side or frowning).
When it comes to informing patients about their healthcare and treatment options, the most effective approach is often straightforward and direct. Physicians should refrain from using complex medical terms and define any new ones they do use clearly for patients to understand. They should also explain any technical terms they use that they might not understand such as “stethoscope,” a tool designed for listening to your heartbeat.
Healthcare experts have recently been exploring applying complexity theory framework to healthcare, however many healthcare practitioners still find it hard to adopt this approach as they often conflate complexity with chaos – an idea incompatible with scientific method and understanding causal change.
Keep It Relevant
Knowing how to improve healthcare communications is key to an efficient hospital operation. Effective communication in healthcare is of utmost importance, whether that means sharing patient data accurately between facilities or discussing how best to treat newcomers – miscommunication can have serious repercussions when it comes to patient safety; research shows this as one of the primary factors leading to medical mistakes.
Many find a visit to the hospital an emotionally and mentally taxing experience, particularly if they do not know what is in store for them. A lack of clear and accessible communication structures only heightens these concerns further. Healthcare leaders must ensure all members of a care team can clearly communicate treatment plans and health education to their patients with dignity and care.
As healthcare evolves, more attention is being paid to streamlining communication processes – particularly electronic ones – for patients. While advancements in HIT are important, healthcare providers must also work toward building strong relationships with their patients; when doctors or other providers come across as distant or cold it may be harder for patients to trust them.
Communication breakdowns in healthcare can be a leading source of error, particularly at transition points. Studies have revealed that when discharge summaries are not communicated promptly to primary care physicians, adverse events like medication errors could occur.
Communicating between hospital-based and primary care physicians can also be challenging when no physician is available to address questions or address concerns from their patient, so developing strong relationships is vital for quality care.
Communication in healthcare is a core element of success in any rewarding career field, including healthcare. For those curious to gain more insight into its effectual use within this sector, consider enrolling in an online master’s degree program like USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s MS in Management program.