Effective communication in health care is crucial for health care professionals, the patients and the establishment providing the care. Andy Betts, a freelance nurse consultant and professor at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, claims that “studies over the last three decades identify communication problems as persistent causes for concern in the delivery of health care.” When communication is lacking in the health care industry, there is poor medical care given, mistakes made and a lack of clarity. With lives in the balance, effective communication is a must in health care.
Interpersonal communication must be clear, thorough and comprehensive. The health care industry survives on collaborative communication efforts between doctors, nurses, specialists, insurance companies and many other individuals. Interpersonal communication is the glue that holds the industry together. It provides a safeguard of customer satisfaction and can prevent a medical mistake with huge repercussions.
Agents of Communication
Each individual involved in the health care industry is an agent of communication. Whether the communication is verbal or nonverbal, millions of messages are being communicated on a daily basis in the industry. Effective communication requires the ability to understand and to be understood. A large aspect of communication is listening and responding to the needs or desires of the person communicating. A health care professional’s performance is directly related to his or her ability to effectively communicate.
Another aspect of effective communication in health care is social interactions. Almost everyone involved in the health care process will have interaction with the patient at one moment or another. Having the ability to discern what is appropriate or inappropriate in various situations is essential for effective communication. Health care professionals need to build a relationship with patients at a distance. Health care professionals should connect with patients on certain levels, and refrain from engaging too emotionally and socially with the patients.
Health care professionals carry the responsibility of educating and listening at the same time. An effective health care communicator needs to be able to ask the appropriate questions to gather needed information while listening to the responses in detail. The level at which a health care professional is able to effectively listen and respond with accuracy, compassion and understanding, dictates the level of satisfaction the patient will experience.
When effective communication is used in health care, the outcome is almost always satisfaction. The ability to communicate effectively and properly understand a patient’s needs, concerns and desires will not only provide satisfaction to the patient but also for the health care professional. If a health care professional is able to communicate appropriately, he or she will have a deeper level of accomplishment which will lead to greater motivation in his or her job, resulting in an improved health care system.