So.. how is your public relations department feeling?
Does it have aches from unhappy customers? Drowsiness from lack of referrals? Nausea from inconsistent messaging?
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare at Massachusetts General Hospital tapped Boston’s Marttila Strategies to conduct a national survey about doctor-patient communication. Several of the results, as reported in USA TODAY, are concerning:
- Only 48% of patients said they were always involved in decisions about their treatment.
- 29% of patients didn’t know who was in charge of their case while they were in the hospital.
That’s not good – especially since 81% of patients and 71% of doctors indicated that communication makes a difference in “whether a patient lives or dies.”
Communication ranks as an important factor by both parties, so why is there a disconnect? If doctors were better interpersonal communicators, patients would likely feel more involved in their treatment decisions and would have a better chance of knowing who was in charge of their care.
Indeed, in recent years, medical schools and medical licensing exams have included interpersonal and communications skills as success indicators for potential doctors. So it just comes down to practicing what you learn – even skills, such as communications, that are more of an “art” than a “science.”
This lesson can be applied to other professions as well – bank tellers, teachers, receptionists, pilots, police officers and countless others must be good communicators. Even though it’s classified as “interpersonal,” this type of communications is an important part of public relations because it has a direct impact on reputations, relationships and, ultimately, results.
Doctors, as well as the professionals listed above, are on the front lines of a company or organization’s communications strategy. To achieve success, they must communicate frequently, honestly and effectively. Being successful in interpersonal communications goes hand-in-hand with being successful in your trade.
Plus, an awful experience with a doctor could make someone never want to return to a certain hospital – no matter how great that hospital is presented in the news.
The views expressed in this post are mine alone and do not reflect the views of Vehr Communications, LLC.