by Wally Sackett
Communication is “The transfer of meaning between one mind and another”; I was told by my favorite college professor, Loren Dickinson. Think of it for a moment: transferring meaning. The process of communication is much more nuanced and complex than we often consider.
Out of the eight domains in the CMS HCAHPS Patient Experience survey, four deal directly with communication:
- Communication with Nurses
- Communication with Physicians
- Communication regarding Medications
- Discharge Information
“The patient’s experience of care depends heavily on authentic human.”
Communication is clearly the central element in creating the patient experience. Often, we in healthcare focus on the information to be sent to a receiving patient or family member.
We have consent forms, medication education, and discharge instructions. We have so much information for the patient that it can easily become overwhelming. All of that meaning that we wish to transfer will depend on connecting. It will only occur when a connection is made between two minds. How do you connect two minds?
Emotional status, pain, age, language, education, ethnicity, eye sight, hearing, fear, and level of trust all affect the connection between the two minds and filter information that flows back and forth. Paying attention, listening, and observing foster connection. Our expressions, touch, tone of voice, pace of movement, level of tension, and so much more sculpt the connection through which information can flow to form meaning.
Deanette Sisson, vice president of Patient Care, handed me this book, “See me as a person”, by Mary Koloroutis and Michael Trout. Our nursing leaders are reading it as a group. The introduction states, “The patient’s experience of care depends heavily on authentic human connection.” Join me in a quest to excel in connection, person to person, at the point of care. This is our mission and our ministry at Sycamore Medical Center and Kettering Health Network.