Communication in the nursing profession is an important tool ensuring the provision of high-quality healthcare, which enhances patient safety and outcomes. Nurse practitioners are trained to practice teamwork, relate well with physicians, and communicate appropriately with patients. Therefore, the study units in communication skills pre-licensure and post-licensure to develop professional communication skills to use throughout their nursing practice (Woods, Thomas & Holl, 2005). Therefore, issues related to communication in healthcare set up seem impossible considering the interest communication is accorded. Research provides that there are positive relationships between clinician-clinician communication and patient safety (Wanzer, Booth-Butterfield, & Gruber, 2004). Despite this, patients often complain of poor health care, and dissatisfaction resulting from problems in communication between nurse practitioners. Many health care consumers experience directly or indirectly the effects of poor communication between clinicians. Woods, Thomas, and Holl (2005) provide that approximately 70,000 children experience adverse conditions annually resulting from poor communication among healthcare practitioners. Those adverse conditions cause extended hospital stay and disability at discharge, and yet 60 percent of them are preventable
The communication between healthcare practitioners may be complex, but it is vital in the delivery of quality healthcare and patient safety. According to Wanzer, Booth-Butterfield, and Gruber (2004), clinician communication is the major contributor to sentinel events, which jeopardize patient safety. Bad systems of communication between clinicians have been reported to cause a patient safety risk for both adults and children. Despite this knowledge, very little has been done to design and put in place safe communication systems and processes to enhance appropriate clinician communication. This study seeks to propose a solution to solve issues of poor communication between clinicians, and therefore improve patient safety and satisfaction.
Possible Solution with Rationale
Solutions to improve communication systems in health care are divided into technology-based and teamwork-based. Each solution is described in-depth in the following paragraphs.
Health information technology (HIT) is capable of addressing many kinds of clinician-clinician communication problems that put patient safety at risk. Implementation of technology systems in healthcare facilities will facilitate the use of electronic devices that would boost medical practice, hence improving care delivery (O’Malley, Cohen, & Grossman, 2010). Through HIT, medical information can be arranged systematically so that it is made easily accessible and available to respective health care practitioners at any time without confusion. Nurse practitioners can prepare summaries of all orders, labs, and consultations, and then store them electronically in one place for easy reconciliation with other patient information. This enhances access to medical information from anywhere, thus medical prescriptions can be completed remotely.
Electronic medical records (EMR) also play important roles in promoting clinician communication. This system consolidates clinical information in the EMR including medication, imaging, orders, and labs forming one source of truth. EMR eliminates fragmented medical record information that jeopardizes patient safety. Furthermore, the use of cell phones, text pagers, and computerized on-call lists enhance coordination of care and communication around care plans. Remote technologies enhance care conferences, which improve communication between nursing practitioners (O’Malley, Cohen, & Grossman, 2010).
Rounds are important interaction activities, which bring all health care practitioners together to form a team-oriented solution. This improves nurse practitioner communication and patient safety (O’Malley, Cohen, & Grossman, 2010). Moreover, through rounds, teamwork among clinicians is enhanced. They discuss the patient status and care plan together, which in turn improves patient safety and satisfaction. However, the effectiveness of this solution depends on the commitment of key team members. Structured rounds enhance the easy-to-follow flow of information within the hospital, and this promotes preparation and team communication. Finally, improving communication in transitions will reduce the complexity involving multiple patient transitions. For instance, improving messaging services is crucial because it promotes faster communication immediately after a patient is transferred to a different unit (O’Malley, Cohen, & Grossman, 2010).
This proposal has provided that poor communication between clinicians is a clinical issue, which puts the safety of patients in jeopardy. This issue can be reduced or eliminated through technology systems such as EMR, HIR, or teamwork solutions such as rounds.
O’Malley, S, Cohen, R., & Grossman, J. (2010). Electronic Medical Records and Communication with Patients and Other Clinicians: Are We Talking Less? Web.
Wanzer, M. B., Booth-Butterfield, M. & Gruber, K. (2004). Perceptions of health care providers’ communication: Relationships between patient-centered communication and satisfaction. Health Care Communication, 16 (3), 363-384.
Woods, D.M., Thomas, E.J., & Holl, J. (2005). Adverse events and preventable adverse events in children. Pediatrics, 115, 155-160.