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Communication in Nursing

Communication in nursing is one of the most important aspects of the care profession. Nurses work on the front lines and provide care to patients and liaise with other members of the care team. They must speak with patients, family members, doctors, specialists, and support staff. The ability to communicate effectively is essential.

The Importance of Communication in Nursing

Communication is an essential part of all aspects of nursing, including prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and education. The importance of good communication in nursing cannot be overstated. Effective communication in nursing is essential for creating a positive patient experience and ensuring patient safety.

Nurses must create meaningful engagements with patients in order to educate them about their health, their treatment, and ensure that they follow their treatment plan when they are discharged. Nurses must also communicate with family members and others involved in the care of patients. That often involves communicating complex information, but in a way that patients and family members can understand. Communicating effectively with patients and their families engages them in their own health care and helps them take important information on board. It helps patients recover in the shortest possible time frame and avoid readmission. Nurses must also be experts at communication with doctors and colleagues, verbally and in writing, and be effective communicators even during times of extreme stress.

Research has shown that effective communication in nursing not only benefits patients, it also benefits nurses. When nurses can communicate effectively with each other and other members of the care team, they get more job satisfaction and morale improves. Poor communication in nursing on the other hand is part of the reason for a high staff turnover and excessive stress.

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Some nurses are excellent natural communicators but, most nurses will need to study and develop the communication and interpersonal skills that are essential in nursing.

Essential Nurse Communication Skills

Nurses must communicate with a wide range of people and have excellent verbal, non-verbal, written, and presentation skills. Good communication skills are vital for ensuring patients receive high quality care and improving communication skills will also enhance career prospects.

Listed below are some of the essential nurse communication skills that should be mastered:

  • Verbal Communication – The ability to speak clearly, concisely, and effectively communicate a point.
  • Non-Verbal Communication – The ability to communicate with patients, family members, and colleagues without speaking, through eye contact, body language, and posture.
  • Written Communication – Being able to write clearly, concisely, and in an easy to understand manner using correct language, spelling, and grammar.
  • Active Listening – The ability to listen, concentrate, and understand what is being said, and not just hear what is being spoken. Active listening allows nurses to determine how a patient is feeling.
  • Patient Education – Being able to clearly explain a medical condition, treatment regimen, or medical procedure in simple, precise terms to ensure patients fully understand.
  • Compassion – Nurses must show compassion, care, and kindness when dealing with patients. This can have a major impact on the patient experience.
  • Make Personal Connections – Nurses must develop strong interpersonal relationships. By developing meaningful relationships, their jobs become much easier and they will be able to provide better care to patients and make them feel valued.
  • Inspiring Trust – Nurses need to be confident and inspire trust.

If the above nurse communication skills can be mastered, patient care, the patient experience, and patient satisfaction will be greatly improved.

Why Patient Satisfaction in Healthcare is so Important

Patient satisfaction can affect patient outcomes, patient retention, and lawsuits for medical malpractice. Patients are healthcare providers’ customers and, if they are not satisfied with the care or services they receive, they can take their business elsewhere.

Patients will discuss their experiences with friends and family members and will also share their views on review sites such as Yelp and social media platforms. A poor experience can be communicated to a great many people and that can have serious implications for the reputation of a healthcare provider. Research shows that healthcare providers with higher patient satisfaction scores can charge higher prices for their services without losing market share.

Patient satisfaction scores are an accurate indicator of the quality of care provided to patients and the success of hospitals, which is why patient satisfaction is linked to reimbursement. Hospital executives and physicians often have a portion of their salary linked to patient satisfaction, and a percentage of Medicare reimbursement is withheld if Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys show poor patient satisfaction scores.

HIPAA Compliant Instant Messaging Improves Nursing Communication

Excellent teamwork and good communication are essential for ensuring patient safety and failures in either area can have a negative impact on patients. Poor patient outcomes and safety incidents are often linked to breakdowns in communication and poor teamwork, which can result in patient harm, complaints, and negligence and malpractice lawsuits. One of the key areas where communication breakdowns occur is during shift handovers, when patient information is not effectively communicated to the individuals taking over the care of a patient.

One nursing communication tool in particular has been shown to be highly effective at reducing the potential for communication breakdowns and medical errors during shift changes and patient transfers, where many medical errors start.

Healthcare instant messaging solutions are now popular communication tools in nursing. These group messaging platforms feature role-based assignments that ensure all patient information is accurately passed on to other members of the care team at shift changes and patient transfers, including test results, patient conversations, and consult recommendations.

The platforms allow nurses to quickly contact the right people, at the right time to obtain information and get quick answers, avoiding the hours of wasted time playing phone tag. With less time wasted, nurses can spend longer with each patient and can provide better care. HIPAA-compliant instant messaging platforms have been shown to improve patient satisfaction and patient outcomes. Improvements in communication mean shorter wait times, less time spent in hospital, more timely interventions, and higher quality care.

Communication in Nursing FAQs

How does HIPAA compliance support effective communication in nursing?

Research shows that when patients believe their privacy is protected, they are more willing to share personal information with healthcare professionals. This implies that patients will be willing to be more open about their conditions with nurses in a HIPAA-compliant environment, helping nurses to understand how they can be more effective in their roles – which leads to better patient outcomes.

How can healthcare facilities improve communication with patients?

Communication with patients should start before patients are admitted whenever possible. Patients should be given a well worded Notice of Privacy Practices to build trust, be given the option to send and receive communications via a secure healthcare instant messaging solution and be contacted during and after their stay with reminders of the best ways to accelerate their recovery.

How is poor communication in nursing a reason for high staff turnover?

Poor communication is one of several reasons for high staff turnover in nursing. A Hospital IQ survey in November 2021 found that poor communication, inefficient operational workflows, and increased administrative burden – heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic – were the leading reasons for nursing professionals leaving, or considering leaving, the nursing profession.

How is it possible to teach new nurses communication skills?

Evidence from the UK suggests nurses improve their communication skills by learning engagement and interaction techniques from senior nurses. Therefore, where staffing levels allow, senior nurses with existing communication skills should be paired with new entrants into the nursing profession to teach new nurses communication skills at the earliest possible opportunity.

How are Medicare reimbursements affected by patient satisfaction scores?

In 2012, the Affordable Care Act introduced a new policy that affects Medicare reimbursement based on how hospitals perform in four metrics – clinical process of care, patient experience of care, outcomes of care, and efficiency. The patient experience of care score (based on the HCAHPS survey) accounts for 30% of a hospital´s overall score.