Communication is the Key to Patient Satisfaction

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Jennifer Burfield, RN

When you think about what makes a patient feel satisfied, several different ideas come to mind. Examples would be a patient being satisfied with their improvement in function, a healing wound, their understanding of medications, or they now understand whatever disease process brought them to us in the first place and can manage it independently under the care of their physician.  All of these are wonderful outcomes, but none of them are possible without effective and open communication.

 Communication facilitates the “flow” of healthcare across the continuum. We need to consider the patient as part of the healthcare team. Being included in the decision making process is vital to the success and overall satisfaction of the patient.  

We have to keep communication at the forefront, constantly striving to improve how we keep our patients informed and updated on treatment plan changes, schedules, discharge plans, and how they can contribute to their own success. In Philipsburg, we try to make our patient the “master of their own universe”. We don’t want them to be totally dependent upon us.  That’s not why we are here.  We are here to teach them how to care for themselves or their loved ones. They are in charge and we are here for guidance. If they fall apart after we are no longer in their homes, then we have failed to do our part. 

At our monthly meetings we are always discussing how to improve communication among all of the disciplines involved in the patient’s care.  We have made many changes and in our electronic age communication is much quicker, but nothing will ever replace the sense of satisfaction a patient gets when they have their nurse communicate directly with them whether by phone or in person to include them in planning their own care. 

I recently read a quote that said, “The basic building block of good communication is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value.”(unknown author) If we can convey that feeling to our patients then everybody wins.

Jennifer Burfield is a RN with Conemaugh Home Health in Philipsburg. For more information, visit www.conemaugh.org