The one constant in the world of COVID-19 is change. Response protocols seem to be new every day as we learn more about the virus that is plaguing our entire world. We jump from one crisis to the next, attempting to treat patients with limited knowledge of their ailment and few proven solutions. With the ever-changing information about this global pandemic, effective communication with frontline healthcare workers has never been more important.
Communication Improves Patient Outcomes
Even before Coronavirus began to spread across the globe, a focus was developing on hospital staff communication. We’ve long seen that when communication breaks down in an emergency situation, patient outcomes suffer. In a rapidly changing situation like the one we currently face, effective communication is the only way to ensure staff is aware of the most recent developments in patient treatment and safety protocols.
Communication Saves Time
Hospitals are already overstretched with too few staff and too many patients. The last thing your workers need is to spend time correcting work that could have been done right the first time but for a lack of communication somewhere in the chain. Not to mention, tracking down information that was not clearly disseminated can be a lengthy and frustrating process that should be easily averted.
Communication Reduces Stress
Your staff members are under enormous pressure with the influx of patients and the heartbreaking tragedies playing out in front of their eyes. You certainly don’t want to add to the load with poor communication and its pitfalls.
Communication Builds Trust
No team can function properly without trust, and this is even more true when the team in question is dealing with literal life and death issues. Clear, effective communication is one of the fastest and most lasting ways to build trust with your team and your entire facility staff. Not only that, communicating with staff members enables them to communicate with patients and family members, meaning the trust spreads well beyond the staffroom.
How to Communicate Effectively and Efficiently
Unfortunately, understanding the importance of effective communication is not enough. Implementing it can still be tricky. The good news is that today’s digital communication tools make communicating with a large healthcare staff easier than ever before.
Choose the Right Technology
Look for a communication platform that allows you to send out messages to your entire team, but also one that allows employees to communicate effectively with one another and to communicate directly with you. You’ll also want to ensure that this communication platform protects patient privacy and safeguards other sensitive information. A function-rich modern communications platform is an excellent option.
Ensure that your communications platform works on both computers and mobile devices as busy workers who don’t sit behind a desk will need access as they go about their day. You’ll also want a tool that provides feedback in the form of data and reports for you. This way you can see which messages were most effective and when your communication may have fallen flat.
Be Clear but Succinct
Digital communication is only effective if your employees actually read your messages. Frontline workers rarely have time to sit down and read through a lengthy email, so be sure to keep your messages short and to the point. If further details are needed, elaborate elsewhere and then include a link. This way employees can get the important points of your message quickly and then reference the details when they have time or as needed.
Target Your Messaging
Not everyone in your organisation needs the same information. A missive designed to improve patient care probably doesn’t need to be read by the accounting department. Likewise, some messaging should be sent only to specific groups such as ER nurses or ICU staff.
Be sure to use targeted communications to reach those employees who can benefit from the information, rather than blasting messages to the entire workforce. This allows employees to avoid wasting time on communications that don’t apply to their position or department, while highlighting key information that they need to know.
Simplify Communication Methods
Email, phone, text, social media, etc. – in this day and age, we are bombarded with constant communication from all sorts of sources. Rather than just adding to the noise, simplify your communications to be as streamlined and available as possible.
Give employees one place to find workplace communications of all sorts, accessible regardless of their preferred device. They should be able to connect with company news, check on their remaining PTO hours, view health director videos, research safety regulations, and access the latest data on treatments and protocols, all from one platform.
Then, ensure that all departments are using the same communication platform. This will make messaging easier on busy staff members and cut down on problems caused by missed messages and excess communication channels.
Don’t Just Talk, Listen
Employees want to feel appreciated and the best way to show them that they are valued is to listen. Encourage your team to reach out when they have a question or concern. Provide direct communication with all levels of staff within your organization and be sure to read and respond to messages that come your way. You won’t be able to answer every question or implement every suggestion, but you can show that you care by letting staff know you hear them.
Encourage Communication Across Departments and Between Shifts
If your pathologists and your pulmonologists aren’t communicating, it’s easy to miss important details relating to patient care. Likewise, if the overnight nurse doesn’t have an effective way of alerting daytime staff to patient details, care will suffer. Encourage staff to use your preferred communication tool for team alignment and to foster cooperation, but also for problem solving and general information purposes.
Remember, communication is one of the most vital tools a healthcare staff has to improve outcomes, decrease stress, and make the workplace more efficient and effective. A well-designed means of communication can make all the difference in this incredibly stressful and difficult time.