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The Importance of Communication in Healthcare

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importance of communication in healthcare

Research shows that quality communication in Healthcare remains a cornerstone in effective treatment. Patients should feel that their provider offers empathy coupled with quality communication when explaining a diagnosis and treatment plan.

As a healthcare provider, you should always take the time to review your patient’s understanding of the treatment plan to improve care and ensure long-term success. Patients tend to follow through successfully with directions and medical recommendations when they have a strong positive relationship with their healthcare provider.

The key components of effective patient communication include:

  • Ability to explain the diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Listen to the patient’s questions and concerns.
  • Empathize with any concerns or fears the patient might express.

When the top three components of patient communication are met, the health outcomes and patient satisfaction tend to improve dramatically.

Communication plays a significant role in the patient/physician relationship. A patient will consider their quality of care exceptional if they have an effective communication foundation and interactions. A patient who has positive interactions with their healthcare provider tends to take a much more initiative-taking part in their treatment, care, and self-management.


The Dangers of Communication Problems and Treatment Success

Communication problems lead to poor treatment success.

  • Studies have shown that one-third of patients who suffer from chronic illnesses often lead to them underusing their prescription medications due to a lack of funds and cost concerns that they do not share with their physician. The patient is often embarrassed to reveal financial concerns, or they simply do not feel comfortable discussing the problems with their healthcare provider. Often, they simply don’t feel like their physician will care if they cannot afford the prescribed medication.
  • Research showed that only half of all patients who have been hospitalized can identify the name of their medical diagnosis or the medications they are supposed to use upon discharge due to a failure in communication with their physician.
  • The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report on Health Professions and Training carried out a study that showed that physicians and other healthcare professionals often have inadequate training in patient communication.


Core Communication Skills

IOM has made a strong push for licensing organizations and educators to bolster their professional training regarding patient communication. The outline of a strong patient-centered care model that shows the foundation of healthcare communication should be founded on core communication skills such as the following:

  • Open-ended inquiry
  • Reflective listening
  • Empathy


Successful patient communication should focus on working together to develop a plan that meets the emotional, physical, social, and economic needs of the patient. The patient should have a solid understanding of the plan and feel comfortable asking questions or voicing concerns or fears. A healthcare provider should always take the time to examine the patient’s understanding of the plan, especially if the patient is being discharged because you’ll want to ensure that they will remain home care compliant to decrease any readmission and ensure the success of their treatment plan.


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Common Reasons Why a Treatment Plan Fails

A Health Care Quality Survey was carried out which found that 25% of Americans failed to follow their treatment plan due to the following reasons:

  • 39% stated that they did not agree with what the physician wanted or recommended as a treatment plan.
  • 27% worried about finances.
  • 25% felt that the instructions were too difficult.
  • 20% believed that the treatment plan went against their personal beliefs.
  • 7% did not understand exactly how to conduct the treatment plan.


How to Foster Patient Satisfaction

Below are the following ways to better foster patient satisfaction to ensure treatment plan success:

  • Expectations: Always provide the patient with sufficient time to explain their story and goals with the treatment plan.
  • Communication: Physicians need to take the concerns and satisfaction of the patient seriously by explaining everything clearly and taking the time to understand how the patient feels.
  • Control: Let the patient take control of their own treatment plan by welcoming their concerns, ideas, and expectations during a conversation.
  • Decision: Patient satisfaction always increases when the patient’s physical, mental, and social functions are acknowledged.
  • Time: Physicians who take the time to address all issues increase patient satisfaction.
  • Referrals: Most patients prefer the healthcare team to manage all referrals.
  • Continued Care: Patients feel more satisfied when they continue to receive ongoing care from the practice and physician instead of having to go to a multitude of healthcare providers.
  • Ongoing Clinical Team: A patient’s satisfaction with the clinical team creates a positive treatment experience.
  • Dignity: A patient expects and deserves respect throughout the entire treatment process and with any healthcare decisions.


Patient Safety and Treatment Plan Success

When a treatment plan fails, it often occurs as a result of human and system errors. Studies carried out over 10 years (1995 to 2005) showed that ineffective communication causes 66% of all medical errors. If a healthcare team or physician fails to effectively communicate then all aspects of patient care start to falter and fail.


Malpractice Risk and Treatment Success

Research conducted by Huntington and Kuhn has revealed that the root cause of most malpractice claims stems from a breakdown between the patient and the physician.

Feeling supported, understood, valued, and listened to all matter when it comes to effective patient communication. It was found that 71% of all malpractice claims arose from a breakdown in the physician and patient relationship. Most patients believed that their physician simply did not care.



Practice management should always focus on fostering positive relationships between the patient and the healthcare team with open communication. When collaborating with a patient on a treatment plan, everyone needs to focus on taking the time for effective communication.

To better optimize your practice to ensure a positive patient experience, we invite you to contact us to learn more about Fusion. Our proactive practice management software focuses on making a positive impact on everyone involved. The goal is to ensure exceptional clinical and financial outcomes to pave the way for treatment success.

Contact us today for a free demo of Fusion!

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