In the healthcare industry, communication takes place among the patients and the medical care providers for appointment scheduling, treatments, understanding of lab reports, and several other queries.
Communication is also crucial among care providers to discuss new medications, treatments, and medical policies. Effective communication helps to gain an improved quality of patient care and effective clinical results. Clear communication strategies in healthcare help to bring down medical errors, long waiting times, expensive treatments, and increased stress, and poor decision making.
A study from CRICO Strategies states that due to inefficient healthcare communications have cost the lives of 2000 patients and a loss of $1.7 billion healthcare costs. (BAILEY)
Communication Strategies for Internal Healthcare Staffs
There are several communication strategies in healthcare that have been shown to reduce the potential for medical errors and ensure efficient and effective communication.
The Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation (SBAR) Strategy – This communication protocol gives a proper structure to the conversations between two nurses for shift handovers or between a nurse and physician. This is the most effective strategy that ensures a high-level of patient safety and information accuracy. In this strategy, the conversation begins with enquiring about the Situation- that is who the caller is, to which patient it refers to, and the reason for the call. Then the patient’s background information is provided, then patient assessment information is taken, and finally, the caller asks for recommendations on what action needs to be taken. Before the call ends, the person who receives the call is asked to repeat the information ensuring that it has been received correctly.
The Situation, Task, Intent, Concern, ad Calibrate(STICC) Strategy – This strategy provides an accurate structure to meetings and briefings to ensure that critical information has been understood with the right meaning. In this, the briefing begins by explaining the situation and the problem. Then, the task is explained with the recommended action to be taken. Then, need to explain the intent of the action to be taken. Then explain the concern for any issue that may arise and lastly calibrate or invite people to get their queries resolved.
Communication Strategies for conversing with Patients
Background, Affect, Troubles, Handling, Empathetic (BATHE) Strategy- This strategy is used to establish effective communication with the patients and resolve their queries. This strategy helps to improve the patient experience and overall service satisfaction. Here the following conversation takes place: Firstly, the background of the patients is noted, by asking what is going on in their lives. Then how does that affect them, what troubles are they facing, how they are handling them, and finally ending with an empathetic statement showing concern for their problems.
Announce, Welcome, Ask, Review and Explain (AWARE) Strategy- This strategy also helps to improve the patient healthcare experience and overall satisfaction rates. In this strategy, the conversation begins with the healthcare professional announcing their presence, welcoming the patient with a smile, ask if they require anything, review interactions, and explain the importance and tell them when to follow-up and finally exit the conversation with kind gestures.
Patient Teach-Back Strategy- This strategy helps to assure if the patient has understood everything explained by the nurse or physician. In this strategy, the patient is asked to repeat the conversation to check if they have got it all right. If any discrepancies are found, they are again explained till the right information is imparted. This helps to prevent errors on the patient’s part and often reduces readmissions.
Patient Satisfaction and Healthcare
Patient satisfaction plays a major role in the healthcare industry, as it is directly linked to the healthcare experience (good or bad) the patient receives. If the patients have a good experience they are going to be with the same healthcare provider and also spread positive reviews about them. But, in case of a negative experience, they will share the same with the world through social media handles and many other ways. This lowers the goodwill and credibility of that provider and results in no patients visiting him in the future.
Using the HIPAA Compliant Communication Tool
The healthcare industry needs to make use of the HIPAA-compliant text messaging platform. This platform helps the providers to communicate effectively on the same platform and ensure that the same information is passed to the correct people at the right time. They can communicate through text, audio, video calls, and also provide telehealth services to people in remote areas. This also helps the hospital staff to communicate their shift and patient handovers accurately.
Thus the healthcare providers who are using the latest communication tools provide care with fewer medical errors, improved patient care, and reduced healthcare costs for both patients and hospitals.
- BAILEY, M., 2016. Communication failures linked to 1,744 deaths in five years, US malpractice study finds. [Online] Available at https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/01/communication-failures-malpractice-study/ [Accessed 15 October 2020].