Patient communication is something you deal with every day. You communicate with your patients as you discuss their issues and concerns, assess their hearing, provide treatment recommendations, and follow up on treatment outcomes. Since patient communication is such an essential and integral part of your day-to-day work, you probably do not give it much thought.
However, perhaps you should give patient communication more thought, precisely because it is so essential. Although you practice communication on a daily basis, you may want to consider some additional communication skills training. Communication skills training focuses on optimizing clinician communication skills. The goal is to better meet patient needs, priorities, and values.
In recent years, communication skills training has become more and more of a priority in health care. Despite the focus on communication, however, few healthcare providers properly acknowledge the importance of hearing and understanding in medical settings.
As a hearing healthcare professional, you are likely familiar with this issue. Unfortunately, to medical professionals in other healthcare fields, the importance of a patient’s ability to hear and understand may not seem so obvious and essential. Much of communication skills training focuses on enhancing the healthcare provider’s communication skills, but even a clinician with the best of skills will not be able to effectively share information with a patient who cannot hear well.
In fact, recent studies have found that patients with impaired hearing are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. Researchers believe this is because patients with hearing loss have difficulty communicating with their doctor or other medical personnel. One recent study found that patients who reported trouble communicating had an average of 32 percent greater likelihood of hospital readmission. Another study discovered that patients with self-reported hearing aid use had a reduced incidence of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and nights spent in the hospital.
Studies have also shown that patients with compromised hearing status had lower treatment adherence. These recent studies make clear that a patient’s ability to hear and understand their healthcare provider is critical to optimizing communication. As a hearing professional, you can assess a patient’s hearing ability and tailor your communication to fit their needs. You can also recommend hearing aid use to improve their understanding and enhance overall patient communication.
Although your profession in the hearing healthcare field makes you familiar with problems that may arise when a patient cannot hear or understand well, it is important to keep these issues in mind as you communicate with your patients. As you share information with your patients, be sure to check that they understand you. It is also important to leave time for silence, during which time the patient can raise any questions or concerns they may have about the information you have provided.
You can also use your specialized knowledge and understanding of patients’ hearing difficulties to raise awareness of these issues among other healthcare providers. In addition to seeking communication skills training of your own, you can become an advocate for communication that includes an understanding of the patient’s hearing ability.
To learn more about the importance of communication skills training and other ways you can enhance your hearing practice, we welcome you to contact AudiologyPlus today.