The Importance of Health Care Communication

Introduction

Health care communication may be described as a method of exchanging information between members of a health care fraternity and also their clients. This process which can either be verbal or non-verbal is very crucial in improving thought sharing among the health fraternity. One of the main functions of health care communication is to match the actions of health care management with those of other members of staff within a health care facility. This communication is also essential for various health-related ideas among support or therapeutic groups. This essay is aimed at giving a brief overview of the pertinent issues while looking at how they relate to communication concepts and theories.

Relevance of effective personal healthcare communication with other healthcare professionals, clients or patients

Stewart (1995) and Roter and Hall (1993) argue that there exists a link between effective communication when communication is clear, understandable and respectful (Morales et al. 2006, Williams et al.1998). According to Hughes et al. (2005) and Woolf (2004), lapses in communication between health care professionals and patients, or among health care professionals, can result in medical errors and unforeseen outcomes. Communication helps patients to understand medication and treatment instructions, this makes them adhere to therapy and return for follow-up care (DiMatteo, 1994). Effective communication becomes is becoming more important to long-term health outcomes as self-management of complex chronic illness becomes more important to health care.

Health care units are expanding their mandate to include the treatment of terminal diseases such as cancer. Consequently, there is a need to push for increased exchange of information to create a conducive environment necessary for constructive debates and a smooth flow of information among these groups. Improving the communication process has many benefits including; high-quality health care, increased trust in the Medicare personnel, and informed decisions by the patients. Even for the successful discharge of patients, efficient communication plays a very crucial role. Therefore, if health facilities cannot implement effective communication, their claim to professional health care is more hype than substance (Cline, 1990).

Realization of useful health care results through efficient professional health care communication

The ability of effective health care communication to provide an avenue for the realization of health care goals is very important. The leaders of many organizations across the health care system recognize that cultural beliefs and values, linguistic diversity, literacy levels and other issues can affect the quality of health care communication. Poor quality communication can affect health outcomes and the long-term success of health care businesses (Morales et al. 2006). Health care communication can help an organization’s staff and leaders learn about the communication needs of the individuals and groups they serve. For example, an organization may adopt patient-centred communication to meet these needs. Patient-centred communication is both respectful of and responsive to a health care user’s needs, beliefs, values and preferences. Without effective communication, the management of a health care facility may turn into unsuccessful endeavours. Consequently, a failed management system will not be in a position to meet the set objective of the health care facility and may erode on the gains already realized. This will result in a general decrease in the outcome of the process (Northouse, 1998)

Occasionally, health institutions commission task forces and committees to look into various health issues. These task forces exclusively depend on communication not only to make their contributions but also to pass their findings to the management of the health institutions at the end of their mandate. Formation of groups aimed at reviewing the performance of various facets poorly performing ones also necessitates effective communication. Without cooperation, interdependence, and a smooth flow of information and ideas between these groups, their efforts are bound to fail. This simply means that these professional units cannot realize the targeted outcome without effective communication.

Poor health care results: the role of ineffective personal and professional communication

When health care professionals and patients cannot communicate effectively, the health care relationship suffers. Patients are prevented from taking part in decisions that affect their health when communication is ineffective. Patients cannot make informed consent without effective communication of complex information. Without clear communication, people will not trust health care institutions and may refuse to seek their services (Thom, 2000). According to Charles et al. (2003), good communication is crucial for the success of shared decision making, and an emerging model that promises to revolutionize patient-clinician relations. Respect for patients, occasionally in very vulnerable situations, compels ethical values that necessitate divulging of truth and involvement of patients in making decisions about their care.

Therapeutic communication: theories and principles for the professionals in health care

Health care providers need to know the variables that affect reception, processing, and expression of information. They also need to understand the multicultural context in which therapeutic communication occurs. Therapeutic modes are required not just for effective assessment of individuals and families, but also to manage care and to increase patient awareness and capacity for personal health management and self-care. To be effective, therapeutic communication necessitates a progression of concepts and theories. For example, therapeutic communication may be used to assess the problem of the patient as well as encourage the patient. Therapeutic communication needs to be focused on the needs of the patient. The communication may involve not only talking to the patient but also listening. There are cases when talking to the patient through opening up has a therapeutic effect on the patient.

The main aim of this communication is to show the patient that there is hope and in the case of a terminal disease, therapeutic communication is aimed at making the pain bearable. It is also aimed to prepare the patients psychologically about what lays ahead. It is important to set good standards as the foundation for the therapeutic communication. In circumstances where the set standards help in the achievement of the set goals, then these standards need to be adhered to and even be promoted. However, retrogressive standards can hinder effective communication and fail to meet the overall goals of the health institutions. Effective communication requires the setting of effective standards at the onset of the communication process instead of trying to effect changes at the end.

Effective communication can also be improved through increased cohesiveness among the health care staff and their patients. Increasing the cohesiveness of the communicating parties may involve various activities including but not limited to team building activities, sharing personal stories and experiences, speaking truthfully and sincerely among others. Good leadership is vital for the success of therapeutic communication as it can boost performance levels within those groups. However, effective communication will remain an illusion if the needs of the therapeutic group are not adopted by the leaders or the management of health care institutions. Lastly, effective communication in health care units requires clearly defined roles where each party knows what is expected of him or her. Doing this well is the test otherwise their claimed professionalism becomes more hype than substance.

Conclusion

Effective communication is a very important component of health care institutions as it impacts both personal and professional health outcomes. Without effective communication, many errors may occur and also target objectives may fail to be realized. Good strategies need to be instituted if effective communication is to be realized.

References

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