Communication is the key to any great organization. How healthcare practice’s internally communicate and externally communicate with their patients determines their reputation.
Many organizations — healthcare providers included — manage appropriate communication measures but still face problems. It’s more than just an inconvenience. Communication negligence between health care professionals and patients can significantly impact the quality of patient care, which affects your organization as well, even if one patient has a negative experience with your practice.
Communication, a key element in providing high-quality health care services, leads to patient satisfaction and positive health outcomes (Norouzinia, Aghabarari, Shiri, Karimi, Samami, 2015). That’s why health professionals need effective communication skills. Additionally, effective communication can increase patient cooperation and, perhaps more importantly, satisfaction.
Why is communication in healthcare important?
Health professionals invest energy, time, and effort into establishing proper communication practices to build trust with patients. The practices with efficient communication can enhance a patient's health, while those who don’t may have a negative impact on the patient's well-being. Communication is a crucial element in all health care practices, between staff, and with patients.
Effective communication goes a long way. It is highly effective for healthcare providers to protect their patients, increase daily efficiency processes, and cut costs. With accessible communication channels, patients can benefit from getting increased access to their medical history and access to their healthcare providers during urgent or emergency situations. Effective communication builds trust between health professionals and patients, too. Trust can make it easier for patients to accept recommendations from their doctors and follow their treatment plan.
When communication problems exist between healthcare providers and patients, the practice suffers.
Common Patient Communication Problems
Patients are often emotionally processing a stressful situation; ineffective communication can make it more difficult for them. That might affect their understanding of a diagnosis, medications, and other important information about their treatment. Health professionals should take these things into account to avoid communication breakdown and a poor quality of care. There are plenty of ways you can improve that. You may explore options that you can add to your system where you can improve your communication to your patients. Sending personalized text reminders and follow-ups are services that can be very helpful. Allow yourself to consider services you can see that can solve your patient communication problems.
Communication barriers are a main reason for patient communication problems. Through appropriate verbal communication, health professionals can often thoroughly understand the patient’s problems. Vernacular language and cultural differences are a leading cause of miscommunication, though. A health professional’s unfamiliarity with a patient’s colloquial language is a communication barrier (Li, Ang, Hegney, 2012).
The following are other common factors for communication problems:
- Poor attention to detail
- Poor listening
- Lack of motivation
- Communication tools
Always remember these common factors that hurt your organization so you know how to avoid them next time. You can stay ahead of your competitors if you don’t have to deal with these common patient communication problems.
How telemedicine impacts patient communication problems.
Telemedicine is an effective way to reduce congestion of patients in healthcare organizations. It is as effective as giving consultation to patients in person and it changes the way patients and providers communicate with the help of technology today. Telemedicine software provides easier and convenient ways to schedule appointments, provide medical information, and other services that can keep patients from hospitals especially during the pandemic.
Many patients prefer this method because they don’t have to spend time preparing and commuting anymore. The convenience of remote consultation reduces the frustration the patients get from exerting those efforts now that care can be done in the comfort of their home. Missed appointments also reduce as patients can just log on using their mobile devices or their computer to communicate fast with their doctors.
What are the usual healthcare communication methods?
Every healthcare practice has different methods of communication, and its staff attends training to use them correctly and efficiently. Even if one of these communication forms fails, patient safety can be put at risk. There are three common forms of communication systems in healthcare organizations:
- Emergency alert and notification systems
- Provider-to-provider communication systems
- Provider-to-patient communication systems
Here is more detail on each.
Emergency Alert and Notification Systems
All healthcare facilities must have an Emergency Plan, according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Emergency Preparedness Rule. The system contacts hospital staff and is “well-coordinated within the facility, across healthcare providers, and with state and local public health departments and emergency management agencies.”
Provider-to-Provider Communication Systems
An electronic health record (EHR) is a provider-to-provider communication tool that creates efficiencies and the chance to reduce communication breakdown when patients see multiple physicians. It lessens unnecessary consultations through straightforward provider-driven care coordination.
The EHR communication system includes payment processing, lab results, patient transfers, referrals, and other collaborative tools. The provider-to-provider category of healthcare communication systems falls under compliance within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Provider-to-Patient Communication Systems
Text message appointment reminder systems and telemedicine solutions are two of the most common types of provider-to-patient communication systems in healthcare. These healthcare communication systems are also in compliance with HIPAA, and a patient's consent must be sought first before using them.
There are also patient-to-provider healthcare communication systems — from nurse call systems that alert healthcare professionals to changes in a patient’s condition to clinical consultation services by email. It’s also possible to integrate patient-to-provider healthcare communication systems into EHRs to automatically update the records — which technically falls under HIPAA compliant. If you want to introduce HIPAA-compliant, 2-way text messaging, convenient online booking, and other digital services to your practice to improve patient communication problems, contact Curogram to get started.
How do you solve patient communication problems?
Patient communication problems do affect your work and hurt your practice’s reputation. Whether the reason is cultural differences, language barriers, or a lack of communication systems, it’s time to implement changes to eliminate patient communication problems.
By implementing the three common healthcare communication methods listed above, not only would you improve your healthcare organization, but it can also positively affect your patients’ health. Patient satisfaction means a great reputation and patient retention.
Effective communication can go a long way. It builds trust between the health professionals and the patients. Trust can make it easier for the patients to have a clear understanding about their treatment information and medications. Listen well and communicate clearly to your patients to help you improve your relationship with your patients. The skills you need to learn are:
- Listening skills: Effective communication starts with active listening. Shift your focus from listening carefully to what your patients are saying so you will know how to react appropriately. Make your patients feel heard and cared for.
- Non-verbal communication: Focus on your vital aspects while communicating with your patients. Practice your nonverbal cues or signals to avoid miscommunication. Your facial expressions and body language when you’re speaking to your patients can affect the first impression you make. Your patients may notice your discomfort, so it’s best to maintain eye contact and have a good posture to make them feel comfortable.
- Ask for feedback: Ask your patients for their feedback to help you improve your service and your communication skills to them. There’s no shame in asking for an evaluation. This builds a better relationship with your patients.
Use of Telemedicine Software
With the use of telemedicine software, you can revolutionize the way you communicate with your patients by making it easy for them to reach you and schedule appointments rather than wasting time going back and forth away from their home just to ask a couple of questions. These telemedicine software you can integrate to your system are the following:
- 2-way text messaging
- Automated surveys and rating requests
- Electronic patient forms
- Online appointment booking
- Smart appointment reminder system
- HIPAA-Secure Staff Messaging
Modern problems require modern solutions. That’s how modern technology effectively helps providers and patients with their communication problems by providing convenient remote care. If you want to know how you can integrate telemedicine software into your system, contact Curogram today to schedule a quick demo.
Find the communication problem areas in your practice and implement strategies to improve.
Finding out where you lack good communication practices gives you insight into what you need to improve and where you need to invest in your organization’s communication system. You might want to consider a few things, like having your staff send text messages after your patient's appointment to gather feedback. Challenge them to create a plan that focuses on successfully reaching your communication goals.
That could include delivering stress-free experiences to your patients through great service that incorporates the appropriate communication methods they need. Explore advanced communication tools to solve patient communication problems and watch your practice thrive.