Healthcare Communications Essay

Personal and Professional Healthcare Communication Communication is a vital ingredient in the delivery of healthcare. It allows the exchange of thoughts and ideas by way of verbal and non-verbal means. Effective communication integrates the use of active listening, paraphrasing, touch, empathy and feedback.

This paper will discuss healthcare communication, the relevancy of effective personal healthcare communication between healthcare professionals and patients, the importance of effective communication to healthcare outcomes, how ineffective personal and professional communication contributes to poor health outcomes and the principles of therapeutic communication that should be used by the healthcare professional in the healthcare setting. “Communication is a two- way process where meaning is stimulated in the mind of others using verbal and non-verbal messages. (Grover, 2005) Effective communication is determined by the mutual giving and receiving of information in a style that produces understanding and awareness of the persons communicating. Healthcare communication is any human communication that deals with the assessment, delivery, or evaluation of healthcare. It can take place on several levels, including interpersonal communication, small group communication, organizational communication and mass communication. (Northouse & Northouse, 1998) The healthcare professional uses their senses for effective assessment: inspection, auscultation, palpation and percussion.

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These skills are integral to effective communication as well. When a diagnosis is determined, the healthcare professional must then assess how to transmit the information gathered or the diagnosis to the receiver, either another healthcare professional or the patient. To effectively deliver the information, the healthcare professional must assess the situation and how the information delivered might affect the receiver, and then decide on the appropriate words, gestures and facial expressions to use.

Effective communication in healthcare depends, in part, on the relationship between the persons communicating. (Grover, 2005) The relationship provides a climate and a basis for accurate communication. Fostering a relationship with patients and other healthcare professionals significantly impacts effective communication. If the relationship has empathy, honesty, mutual respect and equality, trust is developed. Trust, in turn, leads to communication that is open, frank and goal oriented.

If the communication is between the healthcare professional and the patient, a trusting relationship between the two parties is essential in order to accomplish the goals of treatment. Even when communication is between two healthcare professionals, the trusting relationship remains an essential building block for effective communication. Without this foundation upon which to build interpersonal communication, the professionals communicating may excessively filter the information that needs to be divulged, thus leading to incomplete or inaccurate concepts and the outcome that is to be accomplished may be missed in part or in whole.

The relevancy of professional healthcare communication to health outcomes is that communication and sharing of information between all pertinent members of the healthcare team is the only and best way to achieve good outcomes. Just as no one person knows everything to be known about a certain topic, no single member of the interdisciplinary healthcare team knows everything about how to achieve the best outcome for a patient. Through interdepartmental communication, either in written form or verbal form, a synergy is created that paves the way for excellence in not just communication, but also in healthcare and in health outcomes.

If you cannot communicate effectively, information may be missed or the importance of what is being communicated may not be received appropriately. For instance, critical laboratory values are an extremely essential part of care for most patients. Communicating the upward or downward trend in these values can have a positive or negative impact on the outcomes experienced by the patient. The impact of this type of communication is so important that the Joint Commission on Healthcare Organizations has developed a patient safety goal directed at improving communication between healthcare professionals. The Joint Commission, 2009) Communication between the healthcare professional and the patient can impact outcomes as well. Unclear or misunderstood communication on the part of the healthcare professional can lead to the patient not understanding the importance of laboratory results, a procedure, or the risks involved in surgery. This lack of understanding can lead to a patient making a decision regarding the care to be provided that leads to a poor outcome. Including the patient in the plan of care ives the patient a sense of control and input in the relationship, leading to mutuality and a harmonious relationship with the healthcare professional. When a caring relationship exists between the patient and the healthcare professional, the patient reports a better ability to cope with their illness. This leads to greater compliance with the healthcare regime. (Gadacz, 2003) Therapeutic communication takes more into consideration than the skills used in effective communication.

Therapeutic communication is not just receiving and transmitting information, but promotes healing and recovery in the process. (Jasmine, 2009) In order to have therapeutic communication, the following factors need to be considered: cultural issues, listening, exploring and barriers to communication. The cultural issues that healthcare professionals need to think about when providing therapeutic communication is more than a person’s nationality or religion. Cultural considerations include age and gender as well. Active listening is an essential skill in providing therapeutic communication.

Listening involves more than hearing what a person says, it includes eye contact, being in close proximity to the person speaking and acknowledging what is being said. When a healthcare professional actively listens, they do not take notes, make beds or do range of motion; they are, as Jean Watson would say, in the moment with the patient without external interferences to distract from the conversation. To explore is to understand the patient’s experience. Exploring relies on effective questioning to delve into the patient’s issues.

This questioning nurtures a deeper relationship between the patient and the healthcare professional and encourages the patient to divulge thoughts, feelings and ideas about their healthcare situation. At times, in order to provide an environment of mutuality, the healthcare professional may need to share a personal experience with a patient, so that the patient does not feel too vulnerable by their own self disclosure. (Grover, 2005) Some of the barriers to communication include a sense of hierarchy, where a patient perceives the healthcare professional as a person with power and authority.

Hierarchy can be lessened through developing a trusting relationship. Another barrier to therapeutic communication is the focusing on tasks instead of the patient. Although patients have needs like medications, assessments and tests, performance of these tasks while trying to accomplish therapeutic communication does not foster the communication. Lacking knowledge of cultural differences in communication can impede therapeutic communication. Effective communication is essential to healthcare professionals. To communicate effectively, one must keep in mind that people with illnesses are being treated, not disease processes.

Effective communication nurtures collaboration of both the healthcare team and the patient, which significantly improves healthcare outcomes. Cultural differences and how they influence communication must be considered for communication to be not only effective but therapeutic as well. References Gadacz, T. (2003). A Changing Culture in Interpersonal and Communication Skills. The American Surgeon, 69(6), 453-458. Accessed March 22, 2010, from EBSCOhost database. Grover, S. (2005). Shaping Effective Communication Skills and Therapeutic Relationships at Work.

AAOHN Journal, 53(4), 177-182. Accessed March 22, 2010, from EBSCOhost database. Jasmine, T. J. (2009). The Use of Effective Therapeutic Communication Skills In Nursing Practice. Singapore Nursing Journal, 36(1), 35-39. Accessed March 22, 2010, from ProQuest database. Northouse, L. L. , & Northouse, P. G. (1998). Health communication: Strategies for health professional (3rd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson. The Joint Commission, (2009). National Patient Safety Goals, 2010. Accessed March 24, 2010, from http://www. jointcommission. org/GeneralPublic/NPSG/10_npsgs. htm


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