Running head: PROFESSIONAL HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATION Professional Healthcare Communication Lina Mitchell University of Boston ABSTRACT In the following article , the author will discuss the relevance of effective personal and professional healthcare communication between professionals, clients and patients. Some examples of poor patient outcomes linked to ineffective healthcare communication will also be discussed. Professional Healthcare Communication Healthcare communication refers to transactions between numbers of a healthcare team and clients regarding healthcare related issues. The Healthcare communication model looks at it from a broader perspective to include factors outside the healthcare setting that influence the participants and therefore influencing the outcome of the interaction. Three major factors that are mentioned are: relationships, transactions and contexts.
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The healthcare communication model portrays and discusses 4 major types of relationships that exist in healthcare setting namely; professional-professional, professional- client, professional- significant other and client- significant other. The relationship between the patient/client and the healthcare provider is probably the most important aspect of any transaction in a healthcare setting as it greatly and directly influences patient outcomes. At a time when the healthcare trends are moving towards patients being more independent and proactive in their healthcare matters and management it has become imperative to pay close attention to how the various kinds of relationships affect patients’ understanding, goals and outcomes. Effective personal relationships between clinicians and patients and their significant others should be an important practice. As healthcare professionals it is important to first know and acknowledge our own personal values in order to better recognize and accept others. Many factors affect personal care.
A few examples are personal characteristics, past experiences, attitudes, values and biases. A healthcare professional that is aware of patients’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that may influence the decisions a patient makes is in a better position to communicate with the patient. Nurses and physicians should learn aspects of each culture which influence medical encounters. Through better personal communication both patient and clinicians roles and responsibility models are openly discussed and defined. Communication openness among team members is also associated with the degree to which patients understand their roles and goals. For example a patient might expect the nurse will “ take care of them” while on the other hand the nurse might expect the patient to actively participate in their activities of daily living. If the clinician and patient are not comfortable with each other they might have a problem expressing what their expectation is. Eventually the patient feels like the nurse does not care enough and the nurse feels like the patient doesn’t want to take any responsibility in their care.
It is also important that the work place environment is one in which individuals can express themselves without fear of being rejected, embarrassed or reprimanded. Healthcare personnel and patients not speaking their minds increase the likelihood of medical errors occurring and unclear patient care roles and goals. Researchers have found that a spirit of congeniality among healthcare professionals is essential to the delivery of quality health care services ( Fagin, 1992; Zimmerman 1986) .
For this reason most healthcare settings have created programs to promote cultural awareness and social events where professionals get to know each other on a personal level and promote interproffesional understanding where professionals(who are usually schooled independent of each other) better understand each others roles. Effective, positive and caring professional relationships between healthcare professional and patients have also been directly linked to better patient outcomes; patients being able to cope with their illnesses, complying with regimen and directly participating in their healthcare matters. Due to the complexity of the medical matters coupled with natural human error and personality and varied understanding differences, it has become compulsory for clinicians to standardize communication tools and language to improve clarity of information. This has led to the use of tools such as SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) reporting tool. This tool was adopted from the military. It is a format in which report is given from doctor-doctor, nurse-doctors and recently used in nurse-nurse and ancillary staff reporting. Different units have standardized information their report forms that cover what is relevant when calling a physician about a patient. Due to different learning styles report is given in different ways; some people prefer a lot of details while others prefer just the relevant and pertinent information in the shortest possible manner.
The goal SBAR is to standardize the format in which patient information is passed from one professional to another. Most hospitals have now adopted bedside reporting where RNs give report at the bedside to include active patient participation. The goal is to have the patient continually assessed, even at change of shift, and to reduce the risk of information being skipped during report. Nurses during bedside SBAR reporting can introduce themselves and establish a relationship. Patient goals can be stated or revisited and patient sees and feels the continuum of care and is more apt to participate actively in working towards those goals. Other important standardized tool is the use common codes recognized in all hospitals. For example Code Blue for adult cardiac or respiratory arrest, Code red for fire, Code grey for hostile situations are among the many recognized codes. Research has linked failures in healthcare communication has directly to in advert harm to patient.
The most common and probably best known example of poor patient outcomes due to healthcare miscommunication is medication errors. Sentinel events have occurred due to medication errors some which have led to death. Another example is poor patient diagnosis which occurs sometimes because clinicians are too busy to attentively listen to patient complaints and hence miss relevant information. Poor patient education and therefore poor outcome is another unfortunate fruit of ineffective communication. Due to time constraints or use of words that a patient might not understand, patients are not taught enough about their diagnoses, medications and side effects. For this reason they are unaware of signs and symptoms to report to physicians most often until it is too late. The concept of effective personal and professional relationship between clinicians and patients is a necessity, not an option.
Effective communication is a science and an art that can be learned and mastered by those who chose to actively embark on learning it. Profesionals, especially should make it their duty to improve on their communication skills. There are many good fruits bore from the tree of good communication the least of which is improved clinician, patient and family satisfaction. It is important constantly beware of words with multiple meaning, be person minded not word-minded; to be approachable, paraphrase frequently and clarify, clarify, clarify. REFERENCES Beisecker, A.
E. (1990) Patient power in doctor-patient communications: What do we know? Health Communication, 2(2), 105-122 Fagin, C. (1992). Collaboration between nurses and physicians: No longer a choice. Nursing and Health Care, 13(7), 354-363. Northouse L. L.
, Northouse P. G. (1998) Health communications. Strategies for health proffesionals 93(2) 86-121.