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It is essential for every organization in health care system to be able to transfer information for a wider audience. Thus, it is very important for high-quality health care to have a clear and effective communication of complex information. There is an understanding among the leaders in the health care sphere that cultural beliefs and values, linguistic diversity, literacy levels and other issues can affect communication in this field. It is a known fact that health outcomes and long-term success of health care business are affected by poor quality communication. To be effective, communication between the health care professionals and other patrons with people they serve regarding disease prevention, treatment plans and options, risks and benefits and other topics must be proficient.
Role of Communication in Health Care
In the two past decades, health communicators have realized that collectively and effectively designed, executed and simplified health communication plans are able to achieve the objectives of improvised health by enabling people to change their behavior due to social change. The success of a health program plan depends on the consistency of the health plan activities, and only a sound communication system can increase its success.
From the 1990s to the present, health communication can be considered as the ‘strategic era.’ There has been major development in the field of multichannel incorporation (Rimon, 2001).
Another positive point is the incorporation of communication channels of mass media, interpersonal, and community based channels in reinforcing and maximizing the impact. Electronic media has been developed with new technologies that were added to help reach more people in more novel ways. Innumerable stakeholders helped to improve this communication process. Increased attention to evaluation and evidence-based programming is providing much-needed data upon which the decisions are based (Rimon, 2001).
Challenges and Barriers to Effective Communication
In health care, clear communication is very important to every individual and population. However, in certain cases, challenges in specific communication are encountered and can be identified. These challenges cause some individuals and populations more susceptible to breaches in actual communication.
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Health care specialists face effective communication challenges due to many interrelated dynamics. Profession of health care is difficult and erratic as it involves people from various disciplines to provide health care during the whole day. Spatial gaps are created as they are dispersed over various areas with restricted opportunity for simultaneous interaction. Care providers usually have their individual thoughts regarding the patients’ needs and often prioritize and act accordingly. Considerable power distances between different health care service specialists and physicians have always been traditionally maintained in the classified organizational structure. This has inversely led “a culture of inhibition and restraint in communication, rather than a sense of open, safe communication (psychological safety)” (Dingley et al., 2008). Communication has been rendered ineffective due to the diversities in training and education among the professionals. Thus, it usually led to different methods and styles and complicated the situation. In spite of the fact that teamwork and efficient communication are of great importance for reliable patient care, the educational plan for many health care specialists focuses primarily on personal technical skills, disregarding communication experience and teamwork.
Recommendations for Effective Communication Policies
To improve effective communication methods the organization should scrutinize its obligation, ability and energies on a regular basis in order to meet the communication needs of the population it assists, management participation missions, aims and plans, rules and programs, financial obligations and workforce ethics. The organization should make an all-out and practical effort to reach out and understand the community it helps. Furthermore, it should also establish community groups’ relationships to enable community members contribute towards shaping organizational regulations.
The organization should make sure that the structure and ability of its work force are in balance with the needs of the community it serves by engaging and training the labor that echoes the thoughts and appreciates the multiplicity of these populations.
The organization should help engage its entire workforce, including those from the weaker sections through interpersonal communication to effectively reap health requirements, principles and prospects, build trust and convey the information that is both understandable and empowering.
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The all-encompassing factor of a strategically oriented health communication program is a powerful, well-expressed and long-term visualization. A good planned vision is shared among all the stakeholders. The vision should be stimulating and concrete; moreover, it should engage participants and suggest what people should do. The planned vision should give a clear picture of what the future will look like and should reflect the fundamental ethics and beliefs common among the members of the team such as the notion of the people acting as the creators of their own health. A good planned vision not only focuses on the magnitude of the problem but also on the possibility of sharing and minimizing it for a better future. A good practical planned vision also sets the teams’ sights on what is considered possible. A reviewing policy of how the workforce members communicate with each other within the organization should also be enforced. Information systems should be in place to collect and track information on individuals’ communication needs. In addition, workforce members should be trained on how to collect information reliably and consistently (AMA, 2006).