Effective Communication in Primary Care Teams

A cornerstone in the provision of optimal health care services to the public is effective communication - both with the patient and between members of the health care team. Research has shown that knowledge alone may not be able to provide a benefit if it is not paired with good and open communication.

The importance of open and effective communication is particularly evident for primary care teams. This is because primary care is the entry point for the public into the health system, and most primary care practitioners work in a multidisciplinary team with other professionals, where clear communication is a necessity.

Patient-Practitioner Communication

Research has shown that the strength of communication skills of a healthcare team member is linked to a patient’s adherence to medical recommendations and their ability to manage a chronic condition. This can hence affect patient behavior and the overall health outcomes.

It is important for primary health professionals to be able to explain concepts, listen to the concerns of patients and empathize with them, as that can improve patient satisfaction and healthcare experience.

Team Member Communication

The communication among primary healthcare workers has a direct influence on the quality of working relationships, job satisfaction and the overall patient outcomes. This is particularly important for the provision of integrated care in the primary health system.

Current methodology about teamwork suggests that the effectiveness is enhanced if all stakeholders actively engage in discussion to set and work towards goals.

This is thought to improve the understanding of the wider vision of the organization, thus leading to an increase in motivation and performance.

Naturally, effective communication plays a central role in this process, among all members of the primary healthcare team.

However, with the current systems in place in the primary care setting, there are several obstacles to this free and open communication that is required for the best outcomes.

For example, the disjointed nature of communication between different primary care practices often provides no opportunity for information about patient health to be shared.

Frequently, the only information that each primary care practice has is their own records and the report from the patient.

Additionally, the differences in experience and education among primary care workers can fragment the team and disrupt the flow of information that should be communicated.

In many cases, the information flows down from those with higher status to those with lower status more easily than it works its way up again. This can, for example, lead to gaps in information for doctors to make the appropriate decisions.

Improvement in Communication Skills for Primary Care Workers

It is clear that strong communication skills are essential for primary healthcare professionals to work together in the most effective way and provide optimal care for patients.

Although there are currently certain methods in place to promote good communication among primary care workers, there is definitely room for improvement. Both commitment and practice are required to acquire improved communication skills.

Additionally, it is important for systems to be put in place in order to enable adequate communication between primary care practices. This would be likely to help improve patient satisfaction with services and the overall patient outcomes.

Technological cloud-based storage systems are making the concept of readily accessible information a reality between different practices.

References

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2017

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