7 Tips To Improve Communication At Your Healthcare Practice

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By Simon Mikail, co-founder and head of operations, 405 Ads.

Providing quality care and achieving better clinical outcomes for patients are two goals that drive most physicians and healthcare providers. Effective communication between patients and healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, lab technicians, etc. is critically important for achieving these two goals.

Research has established the connection between improved communication (in healthcare) and reduced malpractice risk, better patient adherence and lower overall cost-per-case.

Here in this post, we will share with you the top seven tips to improve communication at your healthcare practice:

  1. Keep It Simple

Using simple, non-medical language can help establish a doctor-patient relationship that leads to better patient outcomes.

Patients are more likely to trust healthcare professionals who use simple language and common vocabulary that everyone can easily understand.

Anyone who interacts with patients at your healthcare practice should be advised to avoid using cryptic jargon including medical abbreviations, terminologies, and scientific terms.  

The medical jargon does not help build trust and confidence; on the contrary, it leads to confusion.

  1. Feedback Loop

When communicating with patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals may take a smile or nod to mean they ‘got the message.’

To make sure patients aren’t disappointed with treatment results in the future or silently doubt recommended treatment regimens, create a feedback loop in order to assess how well a patient understands the information concerning symptoms of a medical condition, doctor’s advice, diagnosis, and treatment options.

A feedback loop helps ensure that patients process the conversation more effectively; it can help bridge the communication gap and improve comprehension.

How you can create a feedback loop to improve communication at your healthcare practice:

  1. Train Your Staff

In most healthcare organizations, big or small, fresh recruits participate in a mandatory training program.

Incorporating ‘effective communication’ in such a training program can go a long way in ensuring all your employees understand how to communicate with supervisors and the patients they care for.

For instance, a healthcare professional should know:

Telling your employees about the importance of communication is not enough. Doctors and managers at your healthcare practice will need to model positive communication behavior to demonstrate how to do it. After all, positive communication is a must-have if you want to enhance patient experience at your practice.

If possible, your organization can also make ‘communication’ a part of employee feedback and evaluation exercise. Rewarding professionals who exhibit positive communication skills at your healthcare practice can help motivate others to do the same.

  1. Hold Periodic Team Meetings

Make it a point to hold team meetings on a regular basis to identify communication bottlenecks and brainstorm on the possible solutions.

Besides exchanging ideas for improving communication, you can also discuss patient survey feedback to inspire all employees to work towards achieving the shared goal of positive patient-provider communication.  

  1. Have a Protocol in Place to Screen Patients

Doctors are better prepared to deliver quality care if patients are screened for linguistic challenges, communication gaps, cultural or regional biases, treatment preferences, etc.

With a well-defined protocol in place for pre-screening patients, your staff will, for instance, know if an interpreter is required to communicate with a patient who cannot speak or understand English.

Depending upon the nature of healthcare services you offer, location, the linguistic profile of residents in the area, and the kind of patients serve, you may need to devise a unique screening protocol to improve communication at your healthcare practice.

  1. Use Checklists

Checklists help ensure that nothing is left to chance. A family history checklist, for instance, eliminates ‘guesswork’ from a medical interview.

Healthcare professionals tend to adhere to standard guidelines and follow communication protocols in every situation when they are asked to use checklists.

When your employees need to sign off on every stage, they are more likely to feel accountable to follow the set procedures or methods for patient-provider communication.

  1. Use Technology

Besides digitizing patient records, scheduling online appointments, and conducting automated surveys, there are numerous other ways you can ‘digitally’ transform your practice. Easy patient-doctor communication is one of the greatest advantages offered by the digital revolution to the healthcare industry.

Therefore, once you devise a set of communication protocols, apply them to all digital communications.

How should a lab technician inform a patient about the test results?

What should a follow-up email to a patient contain?

Ponder upon all such questions to keep up with the evolving etiquette of healthcare communication.

3 comments on “7 Tips To Improve Communication At Your Healthcare Practice”

Practising good communication will help you build trust with your patients and naturally improve your patient relationship. Allowing them to view you as their valued healthcare team. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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