Good Healthcare Starts With Good Communication
Education and Advocacy Quality healthcare is based on three elements: communication, trust and caring. When one of these elements is missing, patient safety is threatened. For many, it’s easy to take these things for granted.
As a patient or a family member, the healthcare system is not always an inviting place – especially when it’s unfamiliar to you. Couple that with the fears and anxieties patients and families often face when confronting an illness and it’s easy to see how people are in fragile state before they even meet with a provider. Very few people are aware of the intricacies of the system and how these moving pieces fit together, nor do they care. We want it to be there when we get sick, to nurse us back to health, and to help us get back on our feet as soon as possible. Nothing more, nothing less. No waiting. No red tape. No unexpected complications. No mistakes.
We want a system that operates as a franchise and that starts with great customer service. In our moment of need, we want to be told everything will be OK and feel safe in the assumption that we’re receiving the very best care from the very best providers every step of the way. As easy as it might be to point fingers at the system, only when we are able to stand together – patient, families and provider – will we actualize change.
"Open and honest communication between patients, families and care providers is the foundation of safe and quality healthcare."
At the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, we’re firm believers that good healthcare starts with good communication. It’s reflected in our mantra – ASK. LISTEN. TALK. – and we encourage everyone involved in healthcare delivery, or those receiving care to ask questions, listen carefully and talk openly.
Open and honest communication between patients, families and care providers is the foundation of safe and quality healthcare. It helps establish trust and brings everyone in the room together, working as one towards the same end as opposed to working against each other. Patients need to be able to speak openly with their providers, even if it’s something as simple as asking if they’ve washed their hands.
As easy as it sounds, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. Even in my position as the CEO of an organization whose mission is to inspire extraordinary improvement in patient safety and quality, and knowing as much as I know about the healthcare system, I struggled when it came to asking safety-related questions during my own experiences in hospital. The bottom line was that I was in no position to take my business elsewhere and what haunted me the most was how my vulnerability stripped me of my autonomy and power. I was on my back and I was worried.
"Open and honest communication between patients, families and care providers is the foundation of safe and quality healthcare. It helps establish trust and brings everyone in the room together, working as one towards the same end as opposed to working against each other."
This is not how a healthcare system should function. Open and honest communication is a vital part of any relationship, and the one you have with your care provider is no different. There is still much work to do on this front but I do believe it’s getting better everyday.
We will continue to do our part by promoting and encouraging communication between patients and providers, as it is a fundamental part of the work we do to improve the safety and quality of healthcare in Canada.
To the patients, families and care providers, we hope you can share our desire to see effective communication at the centre of every patient experience and work together to tear down the barriers that keep the lines of communication shut. All you have to do is ASK, LISTEN, and TALK.