ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Resources and Tips to Improve Communication and (Your) Healthcare Quality

Posted by Plish on September 28, 2011

…Communication is two-sided – vital and profound communication makes demands also on those who are to receive it… demands in the sense of concentration, of genuine effort to receive what is being communicated. – Roger Sessions

The Joint Commission says over 70 percent of sentinel events — sentinel events are unexpected outcomes, death or injuries — over 70 percent are due to breakdown in communication, That’s a huge deal. – Sorrel King, Founder of Josie King Foundation

We know that when patients and clinicians communicate well, care is better. But in today’s fast-paced health care system, good communication isn’t always the norm. This campaign reminds us all that effective communication between patients and their health care team is important and that it is possible – even when time is limited. –  AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.

Communication – real, deep communication- seems difficult enough when two people are healthy and  have all the time in the world to share.

Now put those two people in a doctor’s office, make one a doctor and the other sick and communication becomes even more difficult.  And, if the quality of communication goes down, the quality of healthcare is not too far behind.

To help keep the level of communication high, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has begun an initiative to foster more effective communication between patients and clinicians. One aspect of the initiative emphasizes the importance of asking questions.  People ask all types of questions when buying a cellphone, why not when dealing with their health?  The AHRQ provides videos of both patients and clinicians, highlighting the importance of asking questions and being prepared for the doctor visit.

With regards to being prepared for the doc  visit, Dr. Oz provides a great one-sheet (it’s pictured at the beginning of this blog entry – click on it to get a copy) that helps women if they think they may have ovarian cancer.  What about if you have other problems?

Write the symptoms down- draw pictures showing where it hurts! Make your own list of problems and things to ask.

“The process of drawing is, before all else, the process of putting the visual intelligence into action, the very mechanics of visual thought. Unlike painting and sculpture it is the process by which the artist makes clear to himself, and not to the spectator, what he is doing. It is a soliloquy before it becomes communication. – Michael Ayrton

Ayerton’s quote is very apropos.  When we write and draw, we make things clear to ourselves. When things are clear we are able to articulate them better to others, and this improves the quality of communication- that is, if someone is listening.

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. – Robert McCloskey

Listening is more than understanding what the other person is saying.  Listening, truly listening,  affirms the one speaking.  When we listen to others, those people feel valued for who they are; it builds trust.  It shows that we respect those people, that we value their stories, their dreams, where they’re going and where they’ve been.

With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing. – Catherine de Hueck Doherty

…Listening…

…Healing…

Maybe it’s not that innovative, but  it’s what healthcare is all about, isn’t it?

*****Postscript*****

I have an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon tomorrow, the 28th, and while in the shower thought of a couple of things that I hadn’t before with regards to how my leg is healing.  I’ve written it all down in my phone so I don’t miss anything in the morning (I wrote this blog on the evening of the 27th).  It’s actually a relief not having to expend energy forcing myself to remember what to say tomorrow.

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One Response to “Resources and Tips to Improve Communication and (Your) Healthcare Quality”

  1. […] "When we write and draw, we make things clear to ourselves. When things are clear we are able to articulate them better to others, and this improves the quality of communication- that is, if someone is listening."  […]

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