17 Effective Communication Strategies for Healthcare Professionals

January 17, 2023

Communication is a vital aspect of healthcare—Communication cuts across all aspects of the industry. As a healthcare professional, you constantly communicate with colleagues, patients, and families. 

Cultivating effective communication practice within your healthcare organization can help to improve your patients' health outcomes and reduce complication rates. 

However, there have been long-standing questions about communicating effectively within the industry. Communication in healthcare can be a complex process as it is easily prone to errors, misunderstandings, and oversights. 

In essence, implementing excellent communication strategies ensures ;

  • Higher patient satisfaction
  •  Higher accuracy in patient diagnosis 
  •  Patient adherence to treatment instructions.
  •  Patients can self-manage their condition based on doctors' recommendations and ultimately 
  •  Improved patient outcome.

According to the Institute of Medicine, effective communication in healthcare is as important as the tools used in diagnosis or treatment. In summary, effective communication Is as essential as the role of drugs and treatment procedures in the medical outcome. 

This article details some strategies you can implement to optimize communication flow within your healthcare practice. 

Communication Strategies for Healthcare Professionals 

1. Be Attentive 

Attention is the first step in building relationships with patients. Discussions are only meaningful when you pay attention to the patients' complaints and health needs.

Listen with an open mind, don't be judgemental, and never listen to look for the following question to ask or the next point to make.

2. Ask Open Questions 

Asking open questions is an excellent way to solicit more information from your patients. Genuine questions encourage them to provide a more detailed, authentic, and lengthier response. 

Remember that the more information you have about a patient, the more accurate your diagnosis is. 

3. Be Curious 

Always be curious about your patient. Questions are instrumental in building relationships. Asking questions borne from curiosity shows your interest in the patient. Be interested in the little details in their story and ask questions. 

When you are curious enough about your patient, asking excellent and well-timed questions will become more accessible, making you an authentic communicator.

4. Non-Verbal Communication 

Not all communication has to be in words. Sometimes, non-verbal communication might be all that's necessary for specific moments of your conversation. 

Non-verbal communication skills include; eye contact, appropriate body language, using a specific voice tone, or simply adding a smile. Non-verbal communication can aid verbal communication and pass the message with more clarity to your patients.

5. Summarize Throughout 

Not just some parts, summarize everything your patients communicate to you. Also, ask them if you have correctly understood their narrations. When you do this, you will hardly miss details. Secondly, you show willingness to understand them. 

6. Involve Friends and Family 

When patients are under stress, they tend to forget the most important details that you communicate to them. It is important to involve family members in such conversations. 

Make sure that patients in more severe conditions have family or friends around them to see all sides of the story. Family or friends can remind them of the vital details that might have slipped through their minds during their visit.

7. Be Aware of Their Cultures and Religion 

In communication, you need to consider that every patient is unique with different cultures or religions. You need to consider their cultural and religious beliefs while communicating or taking action with them. 

8. Be Aware of Your Patient's Situation

 They might be going through some non-health challenges. You must be aware of their situations as it will educate how you engage with them. 

They might have lost someone close recently or even be in a financial jam. Please take note of these details so that you can relate to them better. 

9. Inspire Trust 

The best way to inspire trust in your patients is to always keep to your words. Never make a promise or give assurances you cannot control. Also, being compassionate and showing constant interest in your patients' welfare is another way to build trust in your patients.

When there is trust between you and your patient, they get comfortable opening up with you in in-depth details about their condition. 

10. Show Compassion 

You need to understand your patients. Treat them equally with respect and dignity. Many patients pass through a lot. They might feel depressed, scared, or even helpless in the hospital.

But allowing your compassion to show in your communication with them will go a long way in easing their anxiety and worries.

11. Be Aware of Bias

Having personal biases on issues is very natural. But it becomes worrisome when you project such biases during conversations with your patients. Reflecting and acknowledging your preferences is the first stage of managing them. 

Then, you need to take conscious steps to minimize and prevent them from influencing how you communicate with them. This way, patients will not feel judged or uncomfortable relating with you. 

12. Communicate in Different Ways

Communicating using different methods aids comprehension. Charts and visual aids can be a great way to achieve this. Creatively come up with ways to support your communication with analogies and tools. 

13. Avoid Medical Jargon and Technical Language

Not every patient understands medical terms and language. As much as you can, refrain from using medical jargon during patient communication. Break down the terminologies into bits and pieces your patients will understand. 

14. Be Patient 

More often, patients want someone to listen to them. Allowing them time and space to express themselves is a great communication strategy to make them feel comfortable with you. Most patients need time to express their feelings and communicate their symptoms accurately. 

Therefore patiently listening to your patients gives you the ability to make a better diagnosis. 

15. Watch Yourself Back

With your patient consent, occasionally record a video of yourself in consultation. Then Imagine how a patient will feel relating to the doctor in the video (You). You can take notes and examine what aspects of communication you need to improve. 

16. Keep Records

Make proper documentation of the interactions you make with your patients. This makes information sharing across departments easy. When records are accurately curated and documented, patients will not need to repeat their stories repeatedly. 

17. Avoid Interruptions

Make your environment conducive enough for effective communication. Put measures in place to avoid interruptions and unnecessary noise during consultations. Some common examples of such disruption are fans, computers, music, etc. 

Final Thoughts

Effective communication is critical in the healthcare profession. These 17 strategies can help healthcare professionals to communicate effectively with their patients, co-workers, and superiors. 

By being mindful of the patient's needs and using various strategies, healthcare professionals can ensure that they are providing the best possible care to their patients.

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