Collectively, medical professionals have a wealth of knowledge and expertise. That wellspring goes untapped when providers rush from one appointment to the next without allowing themselves time to listen and communicate effectively with patients, when patients feel unsafe, when care teams store medical information improperly, or when health organizations fail to employ interpreters for cross-cultural communications.
Skillful communication is essential to health care. Clear, honest communication between patient and provider paves the way for accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions. Similarly, clear, confidential communication between members of a care team (which often includes patients and multiple providers) results in swiftly and ethically delivered care without breaching confidentiality.
Providers can help patients feel heard, ease their fears, and encourage them to disclose relevant information by having to first identify how this is currently being accomplished. Health care aims to maintain and improve patients’ conditions with respect to disease, injury, functional status, and sense of well-being. The accomplishment of these aims is predicated upon a strong patient-clinician partnership, in which the insights of both parties are drawn upon to guide the delivery of the best care, tailored to individual circumstances. An important component of this partnership is effective patient-clinician communication!
Healthcare providers should understand that effective communication in healthcare organizations starts with recognizing the importance of listening to one another.