Effective communication is necessary if efficiency in the provision of healthcare services is to be attained. Nevertheless, effective communication is hampered by the fact that healthcare professionals work autonomously.
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To address this and other communication barriers, demonstration of certain communication skills is required for every healthcare professional. The acquisition of these skills is necessitated by the nature of work done by healthcare professionals; dealing with distressed patients.
By upholding the virtues of effective communication, physicians do more than provide efficient healthcare; they help patients deal with distress. Thus effective communication not only conveys the message but is also part of effective healthcare provision.
The purpose of this interview is to link theoretical assumptions on effective communication, with real life communication scenario within the healthcare industry. Crucial data for this assignment is derived from interviewing a senior healthcare professional.
As explained by Wilmot (2008), in order to derive credible and quality information from an interviewee, relevant questions are necessary. Thus, five broad based questions covering major elements of effective communication within the healthcare industry have been developed for this interview.
According to VanDeVen (2007), selecting a credible and authoritative interviewee is necessary if quality interview outcomes are to be achieved. Based on VanDeVen (2007) assertions, a highly regarded psychologist serving in a major hospital in Melbourne, Australia, has been chosen for this assignment.
His enormous professional responsibility and authority makes the him a preferable candidate as well as a source of credible and valid information. As Ritchie, Lewis and Elam (2003) explain, setting up an interview must follow due process. This involves explaining to the interviewee the purpose, goals and the reason for the interview.
Additionally, it is important for the interviewee to gain the assurance of the interviewer on the genuineness of the interview process and confidentially with which information is to be treated. This further helps to gain interviewee’s confidence and trust. Therefore, to gain the confidence and trust of the psychologist, the DSO letter issued by the University seemed relevant.
According to Rosenstein (2006), there are two levels of communication within the healthcare industry: physician to physician and physician to patient. Regardless of the level of communication, there are numerous skills necessary if effective communication is to be achieved.
Grogan et al. (2004) argue that whether communication takes place within a group or between two individuals, active listening not only enhances understanding but also eliminates ambiguities. For healthcare professionals, the ability to demonstrate good listening skills seems relevant.
As such, the ability to differentiate between what is said and what is meant, seek clarification where there are ambiguities and misunderstandings, as well as maintain direct eye contact with other communicants are crucial skills that enhance effective communication (See appendix 1).
Communicants ought to demonstrate these skills regardless of whether communication takes place between professionals or between a physician and a patient (Rosenstein 2006).
Communication is a multi directional process; it involves both active listening and effective speaking. Effective communication involves both effective speaking and active listening.
According to Leonard, Graham and Bonucom (2004), effective speaking skills enable a speaker to do more than pass the message across; at times, persuasion, negotiation and mediation are vital communication needs.
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In this regard, professionals within the healthcare industry ought to have the ability to choose words well, exhibit emotional control, be courteous and polite, learn how to persuade others and demonstrate turn taking skills. These skills are necessary for person to person communication as well as communication within a group (Leonard, Graham and Bonucom 2004; Appendix 1).
Yet, the attainment of effective communication within the healthcare industry is hampered by various challenges. Other than the fact that “healthcare professionals work autonomously”, other major barriers to effective communication include: ambiguities and loose meaning, personality and professional differences, inability to use medical jargon, work based hierarchies as well as negative criticism (Grogan et al. 2004; See Appendix 1).
Nevertheless, senior management officials within the healthcare industry have a role to play in minimizing communication barriers.
They ought to develop a recognized formal communication channel, encourage communicants to seek clarification when ambiguities and misunderstandings occur, as well as follow up on conflict resolution.
This is besides conducting continuous training on effective communication for physicians (Rosenstein 2006; Appendix 1).
The skills identified above promote effective face to face communication. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, other modes of communication within the healthcare industry include email, internet, fax and telephone (JCAHO 2005).
While the skills highlighted above are crucial in facilitating effective communication using the media identified above, there are other skills through which effective communication is further enhanced. Brevity allows communicants to stay within the message, while etiquette and politeness allows recognized communication protocol to be maintained via telephone and email.
Additionally, the use of positive language enhances the message. For instance, ‘we can complete the procedure when the money is paid’ is more effective as opposed to ‘we cannot complete the procedure unless the money is paid’ (JCAHO 2005; See Appendix 1).
It is assumed that one of the biggest shortcomings for job seekers is lack of job experience. However, new employees in the healthcare industry require a set of communication skills, other than those mentioned above. Verbal and written communication skills as well as learning to use technical jargon allow newly employed physicians to enhance communication with other physicians (Grogan et al. 2004).
Additionally, other than the ability to demonstrate empathy, newly employed physicians ought to demonstrate turn taking skills, brevity and precision as well as politeness and courtesy (Grogan et al. 2004; See appendix 1). This enhances communication with patients, which leads to improved healthcare delivery.
Effective communication is required in order to maintain professionalism and efficient service delivery within the healthcare industry. Effective communication is a basic requirement for every physician; its attainment depends on the ability to demonstrate certain skills.
Other than active listening and effective speaking, writing skills, brevity and precision enhance effective communication. It is imperative to note that provision of effective healthcare services requires masterly of all these skills as well as the having the knowledge on when to employ each of them. Masterly of these skills leads to enhanced healthcare services.
Grogan E, et al. 2004. The impact of aviation-based teamwork training on the attitudes of health-care professionals. Journal of American College of Surgery. 199(6)
JCAHO. 2005. The Joint Commission guide to improving staff communication. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission Resources
Leonard M, Graham S and Bonucom, D. 2004.The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care. Quality Health Care;13(1)
Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., and Elam, G. 2003. Designing and selecting samples. London: Sage
Rosenstein, A. 2006 Impact and implications of disruptive behavior in the perioperative arena. Journal of American College of Surgery. 203(1):96-105.
VanDeVen, A. H. 2007. Engaged scholarship. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Wilmot, A. 2008. Designing sampling strategies for qualitative social research. Newport, UK: Office for National Statistics.
Appendix 1: Interview data
|Effective communication skills for professionals (individual and group skills)||Communication barriers and solutions|
|Individual skills |
Active listening: seeking clarifications, avoid distractions, awareness of what is said and meant
Non verbal skills: direct eye contact
Speaking skills: good word choice, avoidance of negative criticism ability to negotiate, persuade and mediate
Courtesy and politeness
Use of positive words and phrases such as can, able to, will etc instead of will not, do not, cannot.
|Group skills |
Turn taking skills
Mediatory, persuasive and negotiation skills
Being too judgmental
Using ambiguous word and phrases
Unawareness/differences in word choice and technical jargon
Use of recognized communication channels in addressing an issue
Train physicians on effective communication
Design an active participation platform for employee to voice their concerns
Follow up on conflict resolution mechanisms
|Skills for new job entrants|
|Demonstrate empathy |
Oral and written communication skills
Learn technical jargon
|Daily communication modes and relevant skills|
|Daily communication modes |
Medical charts and reports
Face to face dialogues
|Relevant skills |