Health care communication can be defined as a tool that employs communication strategies and programs as a means of influencing the decisions and behaviors of various people in health issues. Health care communication is an element in the health care system that has been used to ensure effective and efficient delivery of health care services. It plays a cardinal role in enhancing awareness and knowledge on health issues. It also provides an opportunity for adoption and nurturing of desired healthy practices among the people in the society. It is in this regard that this study highlights the issue of health care communication with an emphasis on family caregivers as the selected audience (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
Health care communication has enabled family caregivers to advocate a stance on health issues and policies. These policies have been used in the health care system to convey the benefits of behavior changes in health management. The information provided by the researchers has also been used to influence the demand for health care services. Health care communication has also been used to eliminate the misconceptions and myths that are associated with health matters (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
To deliver its messages to the targeted audience in society, health care communication relies on various tools for effective delivery of the message. Such tools include interpersonal communication between the health practitioner and the patients or other members of the community. In this case, the practitioner must have good communication and social skills for warm interaction with other people. The other tools used in communication entail technological devices such as computers, media advocacy programs, and public campaigns.
Relevancy and Importance
In the context of family caregivers, personal communication is essential. In this case, the caregiver employs the most immediate tool, which is interpersonal communication to interact and share information with other professionals. Consequently, the shared information should be used to improve patient service. Interpersonal communication between professionals is also important in ensuring team building within the health care facility. In this regard, health care practitioners are able to work together and solve the various issues affecting their patients. The individuals can solve their professional difference and establish a common platform for professional interaction among themselves and the patients.
Professional communication between individuals enables the caregivers to develop a sense of shared values and responsibilities in an organization. In this case, the professionals are driven by the need to meet the patient’s requirements through consultation and support among themselves (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
Personal communication among the caregivers is also important in establishing the roles and tasks of every practitioner in a health care organization. It also provides an environment where decision-making procedures are easily communicated to the various employees at various levels of the organization. Communication at the professional level also plays an important role in the assessment of the client’s needs. Health caregivers who share information on issues affecting their patients are able to identify the most appropriate solutions to the problem.
Caregivers who employ personal communication are able to enhance self-confidence and improve job competencies. Personal communication provides a room where the patient and caregiver can interact easily without any difficulties. It establishes trust between the caregiver and the patient. It is the element of trust that enables the patient to share important information with the caregiver. Personal communication is therefore very important for the establishment of a good therapeutic relationship between the caregiver and the patient. Consequently, the relationship plays an important role in ensuring patients’ independence and autonomy. The relationship enables the patient to develop a positive attitude towards the health care program for quality results.
Roles of Effective Health Care Communication
Effective professional health care communication influences health outcomes. Effective professional communication among the caregivers and their patients improves the quality of health results. Communication enables the caregivers to develop services that are patient responsive where professional interaction is improved to provide the desired patient needs. Professional communication nurtures a relationship where constructive communication is used between the patient and the caregiver to highlight the various problems affecting the patient.
Effective professional communication improves health outcomes by establishing a holistic view of the patient and the network of individuals who provide the needed support and care. The communication enables the family members and the caregivers to interact and share important information such patient’s medical history and health experience. It also provides the opportunity to enhance patient safety through the elimination of errors during diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Medical errors are greatly reduced when the caregivers share information and initiate open communication with the patients. For example, to ensure the accuracy of diagnostic results, the caregivers must be ready to conduct a comprehensive interview where all health information about the patient can easily be extracted. The caregiver team can only conduct such an interview if there is effective professional communication.
Adherence of the patients to treatment requirements can be attained through effective professional communication. Patients can only adhere to the requirements if there is a good therapeutic relationship between them and the caregivers. On the other hand, the caregivers can only adhere to professional organizational practices if there is good communication among them. Moreover, the element of adherence enhances patient satisfaction. For example, most patients will adhere to treatment requirements with the aim of attaining improvement in health conditions.
Effects of Ineffective Health Care Communication
Ineffective personal and professional communication in the health care system produces poor health care results due to lack of cooperation and collaboration among the caregivers. It also makes it difficult for the caregivers to interact and participate in decision-making and teamwork activities. Ineffective communication also provides an opportunity for the development of malpractices among the professionals. For example, the establishment of poor diagnostic and treatment approaches stems from ineffective communication between the patient and the caregiver. The situation also provides an opportunity for the professionals to abuse professional and organizational ethics, hence interfering with the dignity of the healthcare delivery system (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
Ineffective communication also interferes with the flow of resources within an organization due to a misunderstanding of resource requirements of various functions and departments. It also disrupts the evaluation process for health outcomes due to a lack of effective strategies of health management and communication programs. Ineffective communication interferes with teamwork and team satisfaction among health care professionals. Lack of professional and personal communication leads to reduced levels of job satisfaction and working relationships. In such cases, caregivers develop a negative attitude towards the client. Ineffective communication may also increase the rate of staff turnover due to poor collaboration, a high number of conflicts, and a lack of mutual support among the caregivers themselves (Elder & Dovey, 2002).
Lack of effective communication also contributes to poor health outcomes by interfering with the health standards in the health care system. Poor communication systems reduce the level of adherence among the patients and the caregivers. In such cases, the patients tend to assess the level of adherence in terms of cost implications instead of the expected health benefits. On the other hand, the caregivers assess the benefits of adherence in terms of organizational requirements instead of patient satisfaction (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
Theories and Principles of Therapeutic Communication
Family caregivers rely on the principles and theories of therapeutic communication. The element of timely interaction is very important in therapeutic communication. The caregiver should interact with the patient at the right time when the patient is free to disclose health information. The caregivers should also ensure that professional communication between them is driven by the main aim of ensuring improved health care services. Therapeutic communication also requires good listening and interpretive skills among health practitioners. A caregiver should be ready to listen to the patient and provide appropriate interpretations for the situations at hand. The caregiver should be able to gather accurate information and compare the information with facts and conditions presented by the patient.
Therapeutic communication should also be aimed at reducing psychological distress and improving the patient’s self-worth. It should rely on information to influence a patient’s health behavior and attitude. Proper understanding between the patient and the caregiver is very important for the establishment of the therapeutic relationship and ensures the success of the communication process. The theory of therapeutic communication asserts that the communication process should be patient-centered for the delivery of quality services (Saha & Fernandez, 2007).
Elder, N. C. & Dovey. M. (2002). Classification of medical errors and preventable adverse events in primary care: A synthesis of the literature. The Journal of Family Practice, 51(3), 927-932.
Saha, S. & Fernandez, A. (2007). Language Barriers in Health Care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 22(2), 281-282.