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Transparency and clear communication are critical to creating a culture of safety in healthcare. Patients, nurses, nurse leaders and other leaders, and providers must consistently practice clear, empathic, two-way communication that is respectful to the beliefs of others. Effective communication is key to providing safe, high-quality care.

Effective communication within a healthcare organization results in two benefits:

  • Patients become more informed and more involved in decision-making. Effective communication creates an environment in which patients are comfortable asking questions, sharing their perceptions, and owning their healthcare.

  • Employees at all levels in the organization become more proactive in solving problems and resolving conflict quickly and respectfully. They also feel they have a worthwhile role in the organization. In other words, regardless of title, employees feel their roles and responsibilities are essential to the organization’s mission and vision.

More than that, effective communication connects people—the antidote to practically any toxic situation. Without effective communication, misinterpretations and assumptions are more likely, which leads to poor outcomes for everyone.

Strategies to stimulate effective communication in nurse–patient interactions include the following:

  • Service-recovery readiness

  • Purposeful patient hourly rounding

  • Bedside shift reporting

  • Conducting post-discharge phone calls

  • Using open-ended questions

  • Implementing scripts to ensure key talking points are conveyed

  • Actively listening

  • Using teach-back methods to ensure patients have the knowledge, skill, and ability to act on new information

Strategies to promote interprofessional communication include the following:

  • Implementing purposeful leader-staff rounding

  • Using open-ended questions

  • Actively listening

Of course, none of these strategies are helpful if there isn’t authenticity behind the words!

On the subject of scripting: You need not memorize these scripts. In fact, it might be better if you don’t. Otherwise, you might sound…well, scripted. Instead, think of scripting as a framework, with handy acronyms to guide your conversations.

Also, regardless of what message you need to convey, your body language must match your words. To ensure this, the BEST approach must be hardwired. This approach will help you to remember to use acronyms such as HEARD or SBAR to recall key talking points, to remain cognizant of your body language, to tap into your emotional intelligence and competence, and to use various scripting techniques within the acronym. (For example, use 3WITH to remind yourself to use open-ended questions.)

Implementing effective interprofessional and patient communication is simply the right thing to do, and doing the right thing has its benefits. One of these is keeping your job. I am not talking about avoiding any punitive measures that may come if you fail to communicate well. I mean that effective communication can help ensure the fiscal stability of your organization. Recall that HCAHPS scores, which measure patient experience, are one of the measures used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to calculate reimbursement payments to ...

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