Communication Strategies in Healthcare

Communication among healthcare professionals is vital to the success of hospitals and healthcare facilities both within their organizations and with community providers. Communication skills are a necessity in the healthcare setting due to the frequent sharing of important patient health information among providers and other staff. Miscommunication or lack of communication in any healthcare setting can lead to detrimental mistakes which is why it is crucial to assess methods, tools and strategies currently in place.

A study conducted by The Joint Commission found that 80% of serious medical errors were the result of miscommunication between caregivers during patient handovers. Poor communication was one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in hospitals. An effective communication strategy supported by technology that improves and streamlines processes, such as a provider-to-provider communications tool, can help eliminate mistakes involving important and sensitive information.

Top Strategies for Internal Communication in Healthcare

Multiple healthcare communication strategies can be used when passing along critical patient health information. With only about  50% of communication between providers happening face-to-face, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation or lack of understanding in the other 50%. 

There are many stakeholders in a patient’s care that need accurate information at the tips of their fingers to make informed decisions regarding care. As more providers and care team members are involved, the lines of communication grow, which increases room for error.  Standardized processes and methods for communing create transparency and improve patient and provider satisfaction.

Successful communication strategies have many factors taken into consideration- including the types and methods for communicating. With face-to-face and digital being two of the predominant ways to communicate, the healthcare industry must implement and standardize for processes for both.  

Effective Communication Strategies

Two of the most common communication strategies clinicians use are the Situation Background Assessment Recommendation (SBAR) and the Situation, Task, Intent, Concern, and Calibrate (STICC) . Both of these communication methods have been tested and proven to be successful. 

SBAR (Situation Background Assessment Recommendation)

SBAR is the most successful and commonly used strategy to help improve patient safety. It is most often used for nurse-to-nurse communications on a handover. With this communication strategy, the healthcare professional follows the steps of the acronym. The other person they are communicating with is then asked to repeat the instructions to ensure all the information is fully understood.

  • Situation – this is how the call or conversation will start. Confirm which patient is being discussed, and find the reason for the call
  • Background – health information is then provided about the patient
  • Assessment – this is based on the health information given
  • Recommendation – guidance is then given about the best course of action to take

STICC (Situation Task Intent Concern Calibrate)

The STICC communication strategy is commonly used across many different industries but works well in a healthcare setting. This strategy is used for briefings to make sure no critical information is missed.

  • Situation – talk through and explain the issue/situation
  • Task – talk through the recommended course of action/treatment plan
  • Intent – discuss why the action mentioned above should happen
  • Concern – what issues could come up and how can they be dealt with
  • Calibrate – if anyone objects to anything, this is the chance for them to state if they do not understand

Effective Communication Tools

In addition to standardized communication strategies, technology tools will minimze mistakes and security risks, improve provider relationships and increase access by connecting providers to the right person, at the right time, every time.

Communication tools, specifically designed for providers, eliminate the frustration of making multiple calls to find the right resource, hold times, waiting for callbacks, and unanswered or unreceived messages. A provider-to-provider communication tool, like PH Connect, bridges the interoperability divide and connects entire provider communities, improving care delivery.

Why is Communication Important in Healthcare?

The Joint Commission found that nearly one-third of medical malpractice lawsuits can be attributed to poor communication within a healthcare facility, resulting in extreme costs and preventable deaths. Furthermore, healthcare organizations must place an emphasis and priority on communication to operate effectively and provide excellent patient care.

Effective communication:

  • Provides a better patient experience and improves satisfaction
  • Improves patient outcomes and care delivery
  • Prevents provider burnout and increases overall provider satisfaction
  • Decreases average length of stay in hospitals
  • Reduces costs for patients and providers

Complete and accurate exchange of communication between healthcare providers is not just necessary, it is critical to delivering efficient patient care.

Interested in learning more about communication tools?

Proficient Health’s provider-to-provider communication system, PH Connect, connects all providers with one clinical communication solution while improving throughput, increasing provider satisfaction, and providing real-time insights.

Learn more about Proficient Health’s clinical communication system, PH Connect, here.