Health care communication is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and translate the health information needed to make appropriate decisions in the health sector according to Bryan (2009). Health care communication is also the effective line of communication between medical professional, the patients and clients. An essential component of the communication of the health providers is the ability to provide information which can improve the patients understanding. Effective communication is an important constituent of quality of healthcare and should be embraced by both the patients and the healthcare providers alike (Servellen, 1997). Health care communication can be in the form of conversations between a healthcare professional and a patient on the prescriptions, over the counter medication bottles, promotional materials, health education, Medicare or insurance applications or any other form of health information that may be required by an individual.
Health communication is a great determinant of patient care outcomes. The outcomes include healthcare utilization, adherence to treatment, satisfaction and trust with the healthcare providers (Srivastava, 2007). Communication skills of the health provider are part of the work ethics which form the foundation of practice that is equally important for ensuring the patients safety and quality care.
Effective communication is attained when the patients can effectively translate what the health care provider says by way of action and when the health care provider can relate to the needs of the patient. Effective communication is sometimes facilitated by the use of translators where language is a barrier as found in the arguments of Servellen.
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Relevance of Effective Personal Healthcare Communication with Other Health Care Professional, Clients or Patients
Effective e communication provides the leverage on which diagnosis and consequent treatment is offered. Given the view that health care units are some of the most effective preventative entities in society, community based projects are common scenarios in th health care institutions. In the view of Nemeth (2008), optimization of outcomes of these groups needs the sharing of information by communication means. This works towards the effectiveness of the individual preventative groups.
In regular health care practice, there are several professionals each with specific duties (Nemeth, 2008). The duties are interdependent such that what is done on a patient at the present time is dependent on the referrals from another professional in the same field. As a way of avoiding malpractices, there should be clear communication whether in writing or verbal to the team members so that the next professional knows where to begin working from. The patients and clients should be fully involved in the process so that they know what is expected of them.
The patient, when seeking personalized health help ought to present accurate information on the symptoms and problems that they are going through so that the health care provider can give the correct diagnosis. In the past, failure to communicate effectively has resulted in law suits in which the health providers have been accused of negligence due to bad outcomes (Servellen, 1997). Clinicians and health professionals ought to listen to the patient complaints and explanations of illnesses before jumping into conclusions as to what would be ailing the patient. This way, the patients will be receptive and compliant to the treatment regime. Listening also builds trust between the patient and the health care provider. Research has proved that the single most effective predictor of patient adherence to a treatment plan is communication. Effective communication on the health providers’ side translates to the education of the patient who then willingly participates in the treatment plan.
Relevance of Effective Professional Healthcare Communication to Health Outcomes
In most cases effective communication provides an avenue through which objectives and goals are met. A health care unit created to care for the aged must be founded on effective communication failure of which the aims may not be attained (Srivastava, 2007). This follows that outcomes are directly proportional to the amount of communication that has been transformed into action. It has been proven that patients who cannot read (illiterate) do not comprehend easily and hence resume poor knowledge of health. They also register high rates of hospitalizations, non compliance with medication and depression. Healthcare providers can break the communication barrier by providing patients with nonmedical terms, diagrams and pictures. Effective communication is hence important if outcome measures like adherence to treatment and disease treatment outcomes are to be attained (Nemeth, 2008).
How the Lack of Effective Personal and Professional Healthcare Communications Contribute to Poor Health Outcomes
Ineffective communications result from barriers like cultural differences, age factors, illiteracy factors, linguistic factors and environmental factors among other factors. Lack of communication creates room for medical errors to occur. The errors have a great potential to cause extensive injury and/or unexpected patient death. This may result from misdiagnoses and problems in treatment that follow lack of or ineffective communication. The outcomes may also include the patient giving up on finding a solution to the disease.
An example where lack of effective personal and professional communication may result in poor health outcome is in drug rehabilitation programs. A patient who does not say/reveal the extent to which he/she has used drugs may get a wrong diagnosis. The one who is addicted needs different care from the one who is just starting out. If the same therapy is applied for both cases, the addict will suffer undesired results, the Withdrawal Syndrome.
Theories and Principles of Therapeutic Communication in Health Care Settings for the Healthcare Professional
Human communication is the product of numerous physiological, psychological and environmental influences. Patterns of communication have origins in the neurological functioning of the central nervous system and the dynamics of communication in the interpersonal context.
Principles of Therapeutic Communication
The main purpose of therapeutic communication is to improve the patients/clients ability to function. A professional should plan to talk to the client at a time that the patient is not engaged with other things (Bryan, 2009). Times like at change of shift, during visiting hours and when there are external distractions should be avoided. Additionally, as a principle, privacy should be conferred and assured to the client more so on personal information. This can be achieved by asking friends and relatives for personal space for the client.
It helps to establish guidelines for therapeutic interaction (Bryan, 2009). This can be built by introduction in full names and by clear statement of the purpose of the interaction session by the healthcare provider. Introductions and objectivity make the client comfortable and relaxed at giving essential information to the healthcare provider. The health care providers should not be judgmental at any given point but should be empathetic to the client. Objectivity is the first point to start off with where results are expected.
Therapeutic communication is founded on good norms which work to either improve or hamper the communication process. Where norms contribute to the achievement of the therapeutic goals, goals should be promoted. Destructive norms however slow down communication and the achievement of group objectives and should be keenly sieved out. Part of the good norms of professional practice by the healthcare providers is allowing the clients talk without interference before coming up with an inference.
In addition, principles and theories of therapeutic communication establish specific guidelines by which professionals can gain client satisfaction. These include having a clear understanding of patient background including culture, education level, beliefs and occupation. The knowledge of such information serves to break most barriers when applying effective healthcare communication.
Every professional health care provider should be able to understand the biophysiological dispositions of their patients (Servellen, 1997). This entails aspects like the sensory reception of information, the sensory experience, brain processing and sensory and feedback mechanisms and learning. The most important sensory modalities that aid in the understanding of human communication are auditory, visual and kinesthetic. There are individuals who will pick up visual gestures faster than the auditory clues while some are multimodal. As a way of professional communication by the health care providers, it is imperative to understand the modal strengths of communication f the patient. Communication is by far improved when the professional healthcare provider understands the patients’ sensory activity and hence chooses the appropriate communication style based on personal assessment of the patient.
It suffices to say that effective communication that is enhanced by the understanding of the active sensory modalities will most times promote cohesion among the communicating parties. The formation of therapeutic memberships in a group is therefore promoted by consistent cohesive communication between members. Also, the professional should take into consideration the patient’s social background, education level, culture, beliefs and occupation. This can serve to form a rapport with the patient thereby allowing for openness on the patients part in light of Nemeth (2008) & Srivastavareasoning. Only then will the patient freely give information concerning himself/herself in confidence.
Effective communication in health care is relevant to the professional as well as the persons seeking help and outcomes are dependent on how communication is carried out. Mechanisms like effective leadership, effective goal clarification, appropriate behavior and appropriate group norms can be instituted to further achieve the desired results. It is imperative that health care organizations assess possible setups for poor communication and diligently offer programs and outlets to help foster team collaboration. Through this, health care organizations have an opportunity to greatly enhance their clinical outcomes.
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