The world relies so much on the healthcare industry. It employs thousands of new workers every year. It’s where people go to get care and improve their holistic health. And we rely on healthcare professionals of various disciplines to develop new medicines, treatments, healthcare standards, policies, and so forth to drive health and wellness forward.
With so much riding on the healthcare industry, a lot can go wrong if any challenges aren’t adequately addressed. One of the most significant challenges is communication.
Let’s dive into why communication skills are so critical in the industry and how you can develop yours to work better with fellow healthcare professionals and deliver higher-quality care to patients.
Why Effective Communication is Critical in the Healthcare Industry
Effective communication is up there on the list of most important elements contributing to the healthcare industry’s success. However, without it, many of the healthcare industry’s problems persist, such as organizational silos and difficult patient relationships.
To avoid this, healthcare workers need to work together in several key ways to improve the patient experience.
Collaborate with colleagues in different departments
Organizational silos, as mentioned earlier, are an issue in the healthcare industry. It can typically occur when individual groups in an organization tend to stick to themselves. You typically see it with employees who work in the same department, role, or location.
Silos are dangerous because employees aren’t as forthcoming with information and documents with other departments, leading to a lack of communication across departments.
Excellent communication is the only way to facilitate interprofessional collaboration. You can’t collaborate effectively with other people in the absence of communication. You need to be able to reach out to anyone, disclose what you need, and devise a plan to get it done with that person or people efficiently. Patient and organizational outcomes depend on it.
Improve relationships and communication with patients
It’s no secret that many patients struggle with their relationships with their healthcare providers. For example, many haven’t developed a genuine enough relationship with their provider to be open and honest about sensitive information, impacting their ability to get the care they need.
Many patients struggle with the complex medical terminology doctors use and have difficulty understanding what to do. Or, there’s a lack of empathy shown by providers in emotionally-charged situations, which ultimately convinces a patient not to come back.
Fortunately, most of the challenges with patient relationships and conversations can be solved with effective communication.
Something as simple as sitting down with a patient for conversations rather than standing over them can make the patient feel more comfortable with you. Speaking in plain language and ensuring everything is confidential can help build trust and open up the lines of communication for better relationships as well.
Better working conditions at healthcare organizations
One of the reasons poor communication exists in the healthcare industry is because of unmanageable workloads. A 2021 Mercer study suggested that we’ll be just over 3 million healthcare workers short in critical healthcare occupations like nursing assistants come 2026.
This means more demanding work schedules for those who are employed in the industry., and, in turn, a rise in burnt-out healthcare employees who have no choice but to rush through appointments with patients to meet the demand.
This leads to poor communication because they can’t spend the time they need to with patients to ensure they fully understand what’s going on with their health and how to address it.
With effective communication skills, you can speak up about the work schedule you need to ensure quality patient interactions. You can advocate for better work schedules and encourage others to do the same.
In addition, when you effectively communicate with your managers and colleagues, you can determine how to best support each other’s needs.
Practical Tips for Developing Your Communication Skills
Effective communication is obviously a must-have in any healthcare organization. As important as it is for the entire industry to adopt good communication practices, you only have control over what you do.
It’s essential to lead by example and develop your communication skills first. That will hopefully inspire your colleagues, managers, and other staff around you to do the same. You can do that in the following steps:
- Determine how your communication style can improve. Start with understanding where you fall short with communication and examining each interaction you have with patients and coworkers.
- Make every patient and coworker interaction an opportunity to improve your communication skills. Set a communication-oriented goal for the day and do it in every conversation. For example, if your goal is to grow your listening skills, you could ask two follow-up questions in every patient or colleague interaction to work on active listening.
- Learn all of the communication tools implemented by your organization. Unified communications on a single platform in the workplace make real-time communication across departments doable, thus enabling more accurate and efficient patient care. Set aside time each day to get to know the features and functions of your unified communications platform. Make a list of any other communication tools your organization uses and get familiar with those as well.
When going through each step, take your time. The more care you take in evaluating your communication style, the more you’ll understand how you can improve and how you can make the patient experience all the better.
The longer poor communication exists in the healthcare industry, the more time it will take to achieve high-quality patient care for everyone and seamless communication across departments and facilities.
Do your part in achieving effective communication within your organization by growing your personal communication skills with the tips above.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.