What role does communication play in the healthcare sector

doctor patient

Our ability to communicate with others is what makes us the smartest being on the earth. But when it comes to healthcare practices, communication process often takes the back seat. Whether it is the healthcare professionals or the patients, a lack of communication (which is often termed as “communication gap”) can affect both the parties.

In most cases, the healthcare practitioners are found guilty for breeding the communication gap. Evidence suggests that communication skills of a healthcare professional have a massive influence on the patient’s capacity to abide by the medical recommendations. In fact, an improved level of communication between the practitioner and a patient can help the patient adopt preventive health behaviors as well.

Numerous studies have revealed that the communication skills of a healthcare practitioner can not just ensure the patient satisfaction, but also educate the patient about the problem and help him learn about the preventive measures. In other words, it can make healthcare practices even easier for the professionals as well as the patients.

According to Institute for Healthcare Communication, the healthcare sector can achieve a number of positive results if effective communication can be established in the healthcare sector. The results include the following:

Accuracy in the diagnostic decisions

Proper communication between the healthcare professional and the patient can allow them to make more accurate diagnostic decisions. When the patients are not provided with enough opportunity or time to share their experience regarding a particular health issue, the communication gap can affect the diagnostic accuracy.

Needless to mention that when a healthcare professional does not hear the whole story from the patient, he/she makes the clinical decisions based on that incomplete data. This communication gap usually occurs due to an interruption from the healthcare professional’s end.

When a patient is stopped from sharing his side of the story, it makes them believe that their story has no significance. This belief often compels them to take actions that do more harm than good. A proper flow of information certainly can prevent that from happening.

Adherence to the recommendations

Apart from allowing the patients and the healthcare professionals to make more accurate clinical decisions, streamlined communication between them can also ensure a higher degree of adherence among the patients for the recommendations made by the healthcare providers.

Non-adherence of clinical advice is a huge concern in the healthcare sector. In fact, a survey on Health Care Quality held by the Commonwealth fund discovered that around 25 percent of Americans did not stick to the advice of a healthcare professional.

The survey also revealed that 39 percent of that group did not adhere to the recommendations because they didn’t agree to the advised treatments. Another 27 percent of that group did not comply with the advice because they had a concern regarding the expenses. And 25 percent found the instructions to be too hard to follow.

All these challenges and shortcomings can be avoided today if the communication between the healthcare practitioners and the patients is more organized and seamless.

An improved team satisfaction

When the team of healthcare professionals maintains a proper communication with each other, it can improve their overall quality of job satisfaction. A study reveals that when the healthcare professionals communicate with each other about their tasks and responsibilities, it has a positive influence on the team members.

When a professional has a certain level of satisfaction with his job, it translates into his performance. Studies show a direct link between a professional’s job satisfaction and his ability to develop a better connection with the patient.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Communication, the following elements contribute to the better team satisfaction among healthcare practitioners:

  • Support from the team members
  • Being respected by the fellow practitioners
  • Having a better understanding of job-role, fair compensation and work equity
  • Having a place where people listen to the individual

As you may realize, all these aforementioned factors can be fulfilled by establishing better communication with each other within the team. As mentioned earlier, it will not only improve the job satisfaction among the team members but will also allow them to improve their performances as healthcare practitioners.

Ensuring patient safety

According to Institute for Healthcare Communication, human-errors and system errors contribute to the one-third of adverse events that take place in the healthcare sector. And studies showed that around 66 percent of all the medical errors that had happened between 1995 and 2005 were the results of ineffective team communication.

An improved level of communication among the healthcare team members can play a massive role in ensuring patient safety around the globe. Several studies have also revealed that when the team members are under an increased amount of stress and are not communicating clearly with the team, it can increase the risk of medical errors.

Since patient safety is the foremost priority for the healthcare professionals, it becomes absolutely necessary for them to focus on the measures that secure a patient’s well-being. Communication, as it appears, can play a crucial role in such matters.

Reduced number of malpractice claims

A study done by Huntington and Kuhn indicates that the majority of the malpractice claims that are made against healthcare professionals are the results of a certain level of miscommunication between the physicians and the patients.

A closer inspection of the issue has revealed that most of the patients perceived their physicians as uncaring. This describes what kind of communication gap was bred between those two parties.

Moreover, 25 percent of the plaintiffs in such cases of malpractice reported poor delivery of medical information, as mentioned in Institute for Healthcare Communication. In fact, 13 percent of the plaintiffs also reported that their physicians rarely listened to them.

These incidents will continue to occur unless a seamless communication system is established between the practitioners and the patients.

How can an increased level of communication improve patient satisfaction?

The aforementioned points clearly describe how communication can transform the way healthcare sector functions in the 21st century. Furthermore, they also give a hint about how patient satisfaction can be improved with a better healthcare communication.

1. Patients need to be heard

Healthcare professionals now need to listen more to what their patients have to say. In fact, patients should be encouraged more to share their concerns and expectations to the practitioners.

2. The patients need to be valued

Patient satisfaction seems to increase when the healthcare practitioners acknowledge the social and mental functioning of the patient as well as his physical functioning. Even the increased length of healthcare visits also improves patient satisfaction.

3. Patients want constant care

According to Institute for Healthcare Communication, patient satisfaction increases when the patients receive continuing care from the same physician or healthcare professional.

It goes without saying that healthcare professionals require a communication training now more than ever. It will require a certain amount of commitment and practice, but it will the worth all the efforts if the results are positive.

Multiple studies have established a direct link between effective communication and the improved level of patient satisfaction. Perhaps, it will be more effective for the healthcare sector, if the communication training can be introduced at the academic level.
About the author

Louis Kemp is an assignment help expert at Assignmenthelp.us where he assists the students with their assignments. Before joining Essaygator as an online assignment helper, Kemp has served in the field of nursing as a professional.

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