Communication With Others

Premier Pulse     April 2019

Kanagy_HS_350x350By Scott Kanagy, DO, chief medical officer, Premier Health Northern Region

Communication in a health care setting is one of the most important tools we have for providing great patient care and improving the patient experience. Effective communication in the hospital is not only essential to providing high quality, safe patient care, but is also necessary to prevent many potential harmful events that could reach our patients. Ineffective communication between care team members is one factor that can be a cause of workplace dissatisfaction, which could compromise the quality of patient care that the patient receives. It can lead to a care team member being called or paged multiple times, which affects that care team member’s efficiency and work flow, as well as that of other care team members. This can cause dissatisfaction to the care team members, delayed care, and risk to the patient’s care.

Communication between other care team members and physicians is arguably one of the most important links in the chain of patient care, but continues to present challenges in health care today. Effective communication between all care team members, as well as with the patient, is one of the key components of safe and highly reliable patient care plans, along with a positive patient experience. Communication should be clear, direct, explicit, and respectful. It can boost the confidence and job satisfaction of care team members and reduce workplace stress. Working in health care is stressful enough independent of poor or ineffective communication with those with whom we interact.

Effective communication with patients is key in providing high quality care. Most patients remember less than half of the information given to them by care team members. This can contribute to poor patient compliance and potential suboptimal outcomes. A technique called “Teach-back,” which involves the care team member having the patient repeat back in their own words the information that was shared with them, is a helpful tool when trying to improve the amount of information that a patient retains. Effective communication enhances the patient experience and reduces patient complaints. Highly effective physician and patient communication is an integral part of clinical practice. Done well, it has a therapeutic effect on the patient. Patients who understand their care plan are more likely to acknowledge their health care problems, understand and comply with suggested treatment options, better accept the necessary behavioral changes needed to improve their health, and be compliant with medications.

I ask that we all take some time to think about how we communicate with others and how we all could do a better job of communicating with those we come in contact with during our day. It is such a vital aspect of what we all do every day. High quality, safe patient care should be everyone’s goal, and improving how we communicate with each other and our patients is an important aspect in providing this to every patient, every day.

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