A breakdown in communication in any situation can be disastrous, but in the realm of healthcare, it can be fatal. It's important that each member of a medical team communicates clearly and works cohesively to ensure patient and staff safety. If you're reading this, you likely have concerns about how information is exchanged in your work environment. Of course, it doesn't just stop at communication among the medical team. The exchange between staff and patients needs to be strengthened in order to ensure the best outcomes.
It's estimated that at least 25 percent of hospital readmissions could be prevented if better communication protocols were in place between both the medical teams and their patients. This is a staggering number, considering the availability of multi-faceted care and advances in medicine itself.
Care providers are expected to be able to convey information and instructions to their team members and patients in a way that is clear, concise, and understandable. Many providers are overwhelmed with excessive caseloads and too little time allotted for one-on-one interaction.
You are probably wondering what can be done to improve communication in your healthcare organization. Here are 6 secrets to get started.
[Bonus Resource - How to Improve Workplace Communication Skills: A Guide for Managers]
Lead by Example
It's incredibly easy to stand by and complain about failings and shortcomings, but the more difficult task is remedying them yourself. If you're finding that communication among your team and with patients isn't up to your standards, then this is your chance to start making a difference.
Establishing expectations and parameters is the first step toward better communication and teamwork. If everyone is on the same page and knows what their role is in exchanging and relaying information, compliance will be less of a battle. The only way to really achieve this is to walk the walk, so to speak. Don't hesitate to set a positive example for your team. And continue to also hold yourself fully accountable under those guidelines and expectations.
Highlight Organizational Values
In order for employees to be able to act independently without creating a whole bevy of problems, they need clear guidance on what is expected of them in a wide variety of situations. An excellent way to help them navigate this tricky area is by putting a great deal of emphasis on your organization's core values. Best practices, as established by management, can help the entire team stay aligned, even in situations that might sit somewhere in a gray area.
Track Performance and Hold Your Team Accountable
Performance ratings may seem more appropriate for the boardroom than the operating room, but nothing could be further from the truth. By tracking and sharing metrics that are pertinent to your team or department's fulfillment of expectations, you are able to effectively pinpoint weaknesses and take corrective action. This is especially true in the area of communication — having the ability to track the team's performance as a whole will help to reinforce those expectations and catch errors before they become major problems.
Listen to Your EmployeesMaking yourself accessible to your employees is essential in fostering a healthy working relationship. Your employees may see problems arise that you yourself might miss. Having an open door policy that allows employees to provide candid feedback — and displaying a willingness to act on or apply that feedback accordingly — can help you gain insight into parts of your team you might otherwise not be privy to. It will also set an example of a reciprocal dialogue that can carry into other areas of your team's interactions.
Ensure Your Team Is Adequately Trained
A shortage of staff or other factors can lead to promotions that aren't accompanied by proper training. This can create some pretty serious communication gaps. For instance, floor nurses are frequently promoted to the position of charge nurse, with the assumption that they can handle the job without any further instruction. In reality, the duties of a charge nurse are quite different from their prior position — namely in the areas of management and leadership. Before allowing a new charge nurse to take the floor, it's important that they fully understand and receive training in essential leadership skills.
Refine Your Ability to Communicate Change
As creatures of habit, people in general are resistant to change. Despite this, change happens all the time — in both our personal and professional lives. Keeping your team focused and committed to moving forward can be a daunting task, especially for those members of the team that aren't particularly receptive to changes. Through our change management course, you can learn how to work with every member of your team to ensure a smooth and cohesive transition into the new and sometimes unfamiliar territory that change can bring.
Clear, concise communication is necessary in all aspects of life, but especially in the healthcare field. Vital Learning’s online communication training course can become your greatest tool in helping your team master organizational communication for healthcare today. Our online and classroom courses contain healthcare-specific videos, scenarios, and skill practice exercises so they are relevant and relatable for your employees!