Creating a Better System of Communication in Healthcare

Lack of communication has been one of the biggest challenges for the healthcare industry. It’s been said that these communication issues has put patient safety at risk.

One of the biggest challenges that the healthcare industry as a whole currently is faced with is creating a system of communication that is transparent and doesn’t have so many barriers.

It’s been said that one of the main reasons why patients file a medical malpractice claim is the lack of communication. This could either be a breakdown in communication between doctor and patient or a  communication failure between all medical professionals involved in the patient’s care.

There is already a lack of trust in the medical profession due to reports about hospitals overcharging patients for procedures. There are also media stories regarding medical errors that are not being reported. It’s time to regain back that trust and bring back the human touch to healthcare.

With all the different technologies and apps that are being used now, that adds another layer of challenges for effective communication between people. Many people now prefer to communicate digitally, which creates issues of security and privacy between medical professionals and patients. This is especially the case for electronic health records (EHR) where there is always the potential for hackers  or third parties to gain access to people’s information.

So what can be done to improve communication in the healthcare industry so that patients receive better care?

Offer communications skills training – It’s typically not a class you would see as part of a healthcare professional’s ongoing education curriculum, but communication happens every day between people. Whether it’s verbal, non-verbal, or written, communication skills are vital and can be the difference between a patient receiving quality care and a patient who is not satisfied and files for malpractice.

Simplify technology surrounding electronic health records (EHR) – Patients have a right to view their health records, but gaining access to them can be a challenge. Other issues with EHRs include:

  • Not being able to access the EHR via the Internet
  • Cumbersome technology that is time-consuming for medical professionals
  • Inaccurate information about patients because of template-based notes

Be thorough during patient handoffs – The transfer of responsibility for a hospitalized patient from one resident to another can often be interrupted or rushed, which can contribute to miscommunication and errors. Sign-outs are often done via email, text, or written notes. Aim for handoffs that are face-to-face or via phone. Sometimes there are important details about a patient that can come up in conversation that wouldn’t otherwise have been communicated.

Developing a system of consistent communication and trust will take time and commitment by everyone within an organization. Is it possible? YesArticle Submission, but it will require a change in mindset and habits.

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