Why is Communication in Health Care so Important?
Effective and open communication is extremely important for patients, caregivers, and other health care professionals. Good communication is necessary for any group or collaborative situation, but it is critical when it comes to health and wellbeing.
Lack of communication can lead to all sorts of problems or complications, such as:
- Unattended symptoms
- Incorrect diagnoses
- Conflicting or improper medications
- Chronic illness
- Unsatisfied patients
The Canadian health care system is notorious for poor communication. The lack of comprehensive and updated digital records is one of the main culprits. While steps are currently being taken to correct this problem, the solution is still a long way from being realized. The conversion of paper records to digital files is a long and intensive process. It will likely take many years before the system is sufficiently updated.
So, what can you do in the meantime to improve communication in your own health care situation?
Optimizing Health Care through Communication
To get the most out of your health care situation, it is important to establish clear objectives and then discuss them with your health care team. Your health care team may consist of family caregivers, professional caregivers, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and specialists. Although, making sure everyone is on the same page is not always the easiest task to accomplish.
Tips for Improving Communication with your Health Care Team
Some ways to get the information exchange moving in an effective manner, is to:
- Make a list of your goals and objectives
- Contact team members to arrange a meeting
- Determine communication styles and methods
- Prepare for appointments
Goals and Objectives
The first thing you should do, is make a clear list of what you intend to get out of your health care. This can make it easier to communicate these desires and intentions with your health care team. A discussion about goals can help create a workable schedule or timeline for what you plan to achieve with your health over the next few months.
Contact Team Members
Ideally, one meeting with all health care team members present at the same time would be the best way to establish an open line of communication. This is not very practical, or likely to happen due to your team’s busy schedules. Even meeting with care providers one a at time is a good way to get things rolling, presenting your detailed aspirations and ambitions. Regular contact can be upheld by email, over the phone, or regularly scheduled appointments.
Everyone has different communication styles. Some people are very forthcoming with information, while others need to be poked and prodded just to get anything out of them. Doctors are often not the best at explaining things in simple terms, or in an obvious way. Preparing specific questions and concerns in advance can be a great way to open up communication.
Prepare for Appointments
Having relevant health records and past medical history ready to go before a doctor’s appointment can be extremely helpful for painting a clear picture of your overall health.
Things to bring to an appointment with a health care professional, may include:
- List of symptoms and health issues
- Changes or updates since your last visit
- List of current medications, prescriptions, supplements being taken
- Responses to or side effects of previous treatment
- Questions and concerns
Professional Caregivers to Assist with Communication
If you are having difficulty establishing effective communication with your health care team, then you might benefit from the assistance of a professional caregiver. A professional caregiver can act as a liaison or go-between for you and any health care professionals involved in your current situation. This practical assistance can help get the important questions answered, establish and implement a clear plan or routine, and stay on track for improved health.
An experienced home care agency like Promyse Home Care can help bridge the understanding gap for confusing medical terms and processes.
Benefits of Effective Communication in Health Care
Establishing a transparent and open line of communication can help you achieve the results you desire for better health.
Some of the advantages of clear information exchange, might be:
- Increased awareness and education
- Enhanced involvement
- Verified results
Awareness and Education
Increased awareness and education about your own health is one of the greatest advantages of effective communication. You will gain a better understanding about your body, existing health conditions, and how to prevent, treat, and manage illness. This will likely result in taking a more active role in your own health care.
The more involved a patient is in the process and outcomes of health care, the more likely health care professionals are to stay engaged and focused on the situation.
Taking an active role in communication means you will likely have a more profound understanding of diagnoses and results. Professional caregivers can also help with interpretations and explanations of health directives.