Communicating with your Patients for Pediatric Success

Over the last several years, many of us have had to adjust our communication styles to fit our new environment. People have learned how to adapt their speaking volume while wearing a mask, and we’ve all become familiar with the best way to set ourselves up for a Zoom meeting.

Learning to communicate with patients online has been a central hallmark of the COVID-19 pandemic for pediatric practices. However, evaluating whether your practice is succeeding in this area can be a challenge. The scope of communication in healthcare varies, and there’s no one standard metric that providers can use to measure their progress.

Greta Rosler, a Nurse Leader and Bedside Leadership Development enthusiast, joined the PediaTricks podcast recently to discuss the challenges of communication in healthcare. She also shared some tips on how the pediatric community can help improve communication — and as a result — offer more efficient and effective care to patients.  

Why is Communication in Healthcare so Essential?

Communication in healthcare is critical to providing quality care to patients and their families. If you don’t understand their needs, it’s next to impossible to offer appropriate treatment and care. It is the heart and soul of medicine, and it’s the first thing that must be fixed when things go wrong. Similarly, if practices have internal communication challenges between support staff and providers, they will struggle to maintain a good working environment, leading to employee frustration and burnout. 

How the Pediatric Community Can Enhance Patient-Centered Communication

Before the pandemic, pediatric providers and staff were most comfortable interacting with patients in person. However, the pandemic has taught us that communicating online during a telehealth visit or chatting with parents via text can make practices both more agile and more efficient. It showed us that it’s possible to make meaningful connections in a virtual space.

However, to ensure your practice’s communication is effective, practices must be thoughtful about how they communicate. This includes taking advantage of technologies like EHR telehealth platforms.

Providers who can conduct virtual visits with patients have the opportunity to see them in a more familiar environment, allowing them to make connections that would have otherwise been impossible in an exam room. Telehealth has brought a new layer of understanding to patients and providers, helping them recognize how valuable it can be to make these connections online.

Additionally, practices should seek out an evidence-based framework for empathy-centric communication. These tools, which are available through resources like the Academy of Communication in Healthcare, are designed to help providers improve communication to better strengthen patient safety and satisfaction as well as interdisciplinary teamwork.

Improving Communication Within Your Practice

Communication is a skill. No doctor would ever attempt to practice a new skill on a patient without extensive preparation beforehand, and this should be no different. The more we evaluate, practice, and refine our communication skills, the easier it will be to offer exceptional care that is truly patient-centered. 

If you want to brush up on your patient communication skills in general, here is a helpful article from the American Medical Association called “6 simple ways to master patient communication”. And here are some great tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, about the best way to practice communicating with your adolescent patients before (and during) a telehealth call.

Want to learn more about how communication can keep you connected with patients and staff? Tune in to our Communicating for Pediatric Success podcast to hear the entire conversation.  

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