The patient’s first impression of a hospital is usually formed by their interactions with the front desk staff. The majority of injuries that occur in a hospital are often caused by a lack of communication. In today’s customer-focused healthcare environment, a hospital’s communication plays a critical role. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common and underappreciated problem areas in most hospitals.
In a hospital, communication can be a very useful tool for enhancing patient satisfaction. Hospital feedback types often reveal problems stemming from a lack of or inappropriate contact. Long discharge times are a common source of patient frustration in most hospitals; however, one major source of concern may be that the patient/patient relative was not informed about the discharge process and the time it takes, and therefore wants to be discharged as soon as the doctor orders it. Patients are less likely to worry about the waiting period and hospital facilities if they are told ahead of time of the anticipated time delay and the reasons for the delay in an OPD. Another field that heavily relies on contact is patient safety. One of the patient safety priorities is to improve efficient communication. Even a slight blunder during shift handover may jeopardise patient safety. Important test results must also be reported immediately to the concerned consultant, and in the event of a code blue, notifying the code blue team or the appropriate staff is essential. The value of communication cannot be overstated in a healthcare setting where a crucial test result or a change in the patient’s condition can mean the difference between life and death.
Some hospital communication techniques include:
• Soft skill preparation for staff to improve patient care. During peak hours of patient traffic, patients often complain about rude staff and insufficient knowledge and attention from staff at the registration and enquiry desk.
• In cases where improved communication is necessary, such as sudden death of a patient, aggressive patient family, etc., the hospital should plan and prepare communication plans and train their staff.
It’s also crucial that the patient’s family are kept informed about the patient’s condition on a regular basis. Senior clinical and management personnel should always facilitate open contact with lower-level employees. There have been cases of hospitals where patient care has been jeopardised because nurses are afraid to contact the doctor asked question how to improve patient experience in hospitals. Employee satisfaction is also improved by a strong communication culture in the workplace, as it improves openness and accountability.
• Improving the quality of hospital services requires a good intra- and inter-departmental flow of information. Quality indicator patterns, audit reports, and patient feedback results should all be reported to the appropriate personnel; otherwise, the operation is pointless.
In a hospital setting, where timeliness, adequacy, precision, and completeness of information can play a critical role in preventing errors and saving a life, external and internal communication are critical. Atthe end of the day, no matter how good the health treatment is, it is pointless if it is not properly conveyed to the patient.
Shruthi Sasidharan is a Folio3 Healthcare associate consultant. She works closely with hospitals to enforce accreditation requirements such as DOW, as she is passionate about improving healthcare quality.