December 13, 2015

Communication Improves Health Outcomes

Finding this article was a pleasant surprise. Not only that, but the source was even a bigger surprise – Physicians Practice. Most doctors use other terms and seem to love them as a way of confusing true communications. This article seems to be pointing back to the importance of real communications.

Communication is the key that could improve healthcare for doctors and patients around the world. I think it is proper to use this by Dr. Rob Lamberts - Communication isn’t important to health care, communication is health care.” as it is very appropriate to this discussion.

Research has shown that collaborative communication between clinicians and patients has multiple benefits, including increased patient satisfaction, treatment adherence, and decreased rates of 30-day readmissions. Most clinicians, who average about 250,000 patient encounters over a lifetime, know that communication can help reduce patient safety risks and insurance costs, while increasing their sense of effectiveness and job satisfaction. Yet, an overwhelming majority of physicians has never received professional development on how to manage patient communication.

Doctor-patient collaborative conversations are powerful tools to bring about a change in attitudes while building life skills, knowledge, trust, and confidence. This can ultimately result in meaningful and sustained changes in health behaviors. In a sense, this collaboration allows for clearer expectations, understanding, and knowledge that can enable the doctor to better understand and meet the patients’ needs.

It also can help them empower patients to assume responsibility and take steps, albeit sometimes small ones, to manage their own healthcare. This type of collaborative interaction engenders empathy and trust, all of which increase health outcomes, as well as patient and doctor satisfaction.

Without communication, the doctor patient relationship will not exist and patients will not view time spent at an appointment as time well spent and will feel that the doctors are there only to write prescriptions and pass out pills. Many patients will not understand the need for filling the prescriptions and won't know what the side effects of some medications will be or how to handle them. Lack of communication causes more problems and harms than many doctors realize.

Communication strategies such as Motivation Interviewing (MI), theory of the mind (or mentalizing), and emotional regulation, all constructs shown to increase patient satisfaction, collaboration, and health outcomes, are important elements of any conversation solution that physicians may consider.

I would urge people to read the link the first paragraph as there is more to this than I have covered.

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