Effective communication between staff and patients is important for the success of any healthcare organization. According to an article in Managed Healthcare Executive, more than 80% of healthcare quality experts say improving communication between patients and healthcare staff is the number one factor in improving the patient care experience.
When healthcare professionals don't communicate, it can lead to a negative workplace culture and inferior quality of patient care. Taking steps to enhance communication among your entire team will create a better environment for both your employees and patients.
Try these five steps for improving communication at your healthcare organization.
1. Incorporate effective communication in your organization’s mandatory training program.
It’s hard to expect employees to communicate effectively if they have never been taught to do it. During mandatory training sessions, instruct employees on how to ask clarifying questions, validate and verify patients’ thoughts and feelings, and engage in empathetic listening. Make sure employees understand the elements of a two-way communication dialogue, both with managers and with the patients they care for.
2. Make communication part of your organization’s culture.
You will probably find that it’s not enough to simply tell your employees about the importance of communication; you must show them. When leaders of your organization model positive communication behavior and make it a core part of the workplace culture, employees will be encouraged to do the same. You can also incorporate communication into employee feedback and evaluations, and reward employees who engage in good communications.
3. Implement patient satisfaction surveys.
Receiving feedback from patients gives you insight into how your facility’s patient experience can be improved. Patient surveys can help you determine reasons for complaints, questions or concerns. Additionally, they can shed light on what your team is doing right. Consider using surveys to gain valuable feedback and assess what type of changes can be made to enhance communication among your staff and patients.
4. Schedule regular meetings for employees.
Learning and professional development are key to improving overall communication skills. Schedule regular monthly meetings with your staff to discuss patient survey feedback and areas of strength and weakness. This provides the opportunity for employees to share their thoughts and ideas for improvement in a group setting, which encourages collaboration and open exchange of information. Your employees may have valuable ideas on how to improve communication in real-world scenarios that you might not have considered.
5. Utilize technology when appropriate.
Healthcare facilities are now required to enter patient information into electronic healthcare records. It’s important that employees know how to use these systems effectively so that patient data is accurate, private, and easily accessible for physicians who need it. Quality care comes from informed care, and EHRs are important in communicating with providers about patients’ medical histories and needs.
Effective communication starts from the ground up and is reinforced by practitioners who lead by example. By building a foundation of meaningful communication at all levels—from entry-level to executive management—your organization will be better equipped to provide quality patient care.