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Healthcare Management -- Discussion Questions
Communication strategies are very important when it comes to promoting the practice of healthcare delivery and ensuring that customer service is offered at the highest level. If a person does not communicate well it can harm him or her both personally and professionally. However, that is still a rather isolated issue that is generally considered to be self-limiting in nature. With companies, and especially with healthcare companies, the issue of poor communication is much larger and more significant. As a healthcare worker, a person has to be able to communicate information to patients, families, and other healthcare workers (Nutbeam, 2000). When a person is a manager in a healthcare setting, though, there is much more pressure to make sure that everyone gets the information they need in a timely manner and that the communication preferences as addressed in such a way that each and every person knows how and when they should be communication to others, as well as what information they should and should not be provided. Without that, a healthcare organization can really suffer and struggle.
Among the most important way a healthcare manager can promote customer service from reception to service delivery is through a proper understanding of HIPAA (Mercuri, 2004). This is designed to make sure that health information is protected, and that it is not provided to anyone who should not have access to it. In the past there were many issues with record keeping and the kind of information that was provided to other people. Spouses, children, and other family members could get information about people who did not want them to have that information, and there were fewer regulations that could be used to determine what was and was not acceptable. With HIPAA, that all changed. Now, there are significant limits on who can be provided with information, and what kinds of information can be given out at all (Arora, et al., 2009). That is true even in the case of other doctors and medical professionals.
They will not be given information without valid reasons and without needing to know a patient's status or medical history for further treatment. This is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to patient privacy, but it can also be a bit confusing when it comes to communication. There are two issues with communication and HIPAA that a healthcare manager must be aware of. The first one of those issues is the misunderstandings that can arise when people do not feel they are being told what they want and need to know regarding their loved ones who are patients of a particular doctor or at a specific medical facility. This is a problem, since it can harm the relationship these people have with the medical staff who are caring for their loved one. HIPAA rules are not to be broken, though, and there can be serious consequences for anyone who breaks them. Not understanding or knowing the laws is not an excuse, which brings the discussion to the second issue with HIPAA and communication with which healthcare managers must deal.
It is not acceptable for healthcare workers to "make mistakes" where HIPAA is concerned, especially in the information they give out to others about a patient. That is true with family and friends, and also true of other healthcare workers and practitioners. For a healthcare manager, communicating that to his or her employees properly is crucial (Mercuri, 2004; Nutbeam, 2000). Without doing that, many problems could arise. When healthcare workers want to be helpful and see family and friends who are upset, grieving, and concerned, they can sometimes provide too much information without really thinking about the issues it could cause. These can become HIPAA violations, so healthcare managers have to ensure they have addressed these potential communication issues with any and all healthcare workers. If those workers do not have the right information, they can be putting a number of people at risk.
Student Two: Healthcare managers have to follow HIPAA in their communication procedures (Moskop, et al., 2005). It is easy to provide too much information, especially when a person is trying to be helpful. Instead of doing that, healthcare workers have to make sure they only give out information they can legally provide. Even among families, some things are private. Healthcare is one of those things, and the healthcare manager needs to be sure he or she has communicated this to employees in the proper way. Then, those employees can work with patients, other workers, and friends and family members of patients in the right way. Communication is very important, for two reasons. First, other practitioners have to know all about the patient's condition so they can take better care of him or her. Second, family and friends are understandably concerned and want to know what kind of outcome should be expected. Since HIPAA limits the kind of information that can be provided and to whom, it is important that it is followed correctly (Moskop, et al., 2005).
Then patients and their families can be advised of the rules and regulations right away, so they understand what rights they have and what they can and cannot control regarding who gets their information. They can sign consent forms for specific loved ones to be given information, so they know who is being kept up-to-date and that information is not being released to others when they want to keep it private. By teaching all healthcare workers about HIPAA and good communication, they can explain the laws to everyone and avoid the strife that can come about when miscommunication and other, related issues come into play (Moskop, et al., 2005). Rather than focus on what healthcare workers cannot provide in the way of information, they can then focus on what they can provide -- and they can let the patient's family and friends know exactly what information they can give them.
Student Three: It is not easy to be a healthcare manager, and one of the things that makes it difficult is communication. Because of laws like HIPAA, it is harder to give information to the friends and family members of patients (Patterson, et al., 2004). That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be stressful for the loved ones of the patient and also for the healthcare worker who would like to help them but cannot because of the laws. There is more to communication than just HIPAA laws, though. Another issue that is faced is simply providing the right information to the right people at the right time in a very busy setting where things can be forgotten and misplaced. Rather than take the chance of miscommunication from a verbal standpoint, written communication is a lot more important (Patterson, et al., 2004). Everything should be noted in a patient's chart, so that nothing gets forgotten. Extensive training on how to provide chart information correctly should be part of every healthcare worker's communication with his or her manager, in order to make sure patients get the best possible care.
Patients should also get verbal information from those who are caring for them from the moment they have first contact until they leave the facility (Patterson, et al., 2004). Whether they have just come for a routine doctor visit or they have been admitted to the hospital, they want to know their health status and what is taking place when it comes to their care. When healthcare workers communicate effectively with one another, the patients, and authorized loved ones of those patients, much more can be accomplished and everyone can work together more easily. That benefits all of the people involved, and helps foster a better experience for the patient (Patterson, et al., 2004). Without good communication, a patient may feel left in the dark, and he or she may go elsewhere for care the next time something is needed. Healthcare is about helping people, but it is also a business and has to make money. Driving patients away is not the way to do that, and poor communication can drive away patients easily.
From this question, I have learned that communication in the healthcare workplace is even more important than I first thought. It is not just about what is being said, but also about what cannot be said because of laws, regulations, and guidelines. Requirements like HIPAA are very important when it comes to protecting privacy, but if patients and their loved ones do not understand the value of it and what is required from it, they can end up thinking that the healthcare professionals who are working with and for them are simply not interested in providing good information to them and their loved ones. By opening up a dialogue about that, it is easier for healthcare workers to explain the issues and easier for patients and their families to understand the importance of privacy. The role of making sure these kinds of dialogues…[continue]
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