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Improving Healthcare Staff Communications

Interactions between personnel are among the key points that are necessary for the success of any organization. In a health care context, well-coordinated teamwork is even more critical, as the lives of others depend on it. Studies show that communication disruption between health workers accounts for more than 60 percent of sentinel events (Wang et al., 2018). That is why the need to improve staff communications was included in the 2021 National Safety Initiatives list. The purpose of this paper is to explore methods that will address this issue.

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This problem is most pronounced at the level of nurses and physicians, as specialists who are closest to patients. Without their joint and precise work, it is impossible to provide quality services. Another area requiring close attention is the intensive care unit (Wang et al., 2018). In that department, like no other, patients’ lives depend on well-coordinated work. In addition, it is necessary to consider the interaction of colleagues from different departments, i.e., interprofessional collaboration, since several specialists often work on the patient’s health at once (Reeves et al., 2017). However, all these groups differ from each other even in theory; in practice, the differences are amplified due to personal characteristics. Therefore, the methods that solve personnel communication problems should be general and represent general strategies.

First of all, improving the communication of staff can be carried out through their active involvement in joint activities. If the team is cohesive and motivated, and the tasks facing it are clearly and unambiguously defined, cooperation will naturally improve. However, although staff involvement guarantees improved efficiency, in the context of health care, such a task is very challenging (George & Massey, 2020). In the list of initiatives leading to collaboration and success, one can highlight the improvement of culture within the team, strengthening of the structure, and professional development.

Since the responsibility for improving conditions lies with the leader, much depends on this person. The leader in this context must be present in the team, and provide communication in both directions. Finally, studies show that one of the most effective strategies for improving employee engagement is the VCR strategy – Visibility, Communication, Recognition (George & Massey, 2020). Involving nurses in government programs and initiatives has led to healthier workplace culture, leading to better work quality and team cohesion.

In addition to engagement strategies, process improvement concepts such as Six Sigma can improve employee collaboration. Although these techniques were initially developed for industrial management, they can also find application in the health care context. Six Sigma is a quality control methodology focused on improving cycle times and reducing errors (Hayes, 2021). Although the original concept was based on mathematics, the strategy has evolved into a more general ideology focused on meeting and supporting requirements and customers. In addition, the combination of lean manufacturing and Six Sigma has expanded the scope even further.

Ultimately, this approach can even be applied in the health sector. Lean Six Sigma brings all operational activities together, forming many links between an organization’s strategic and operational levels (Ahmed et al., 2018). Although this method is not directly aimed at improving employee interaction, this effect is a direct consequence of production optimization. It is impossible to work without cooperation in an optimized system since the final result depends on each team member’s coordinated joint actions. With the correct application of this management strategy, the interaction of personnel in a healthcare organization can be significantly improved by optimizing organizational performance.

Thus, there are several strategies for improving communication between workers. Some of them focus on the role of the leader in the team, who must unite it for more effective work. Several other approaches suggest using different qualitative assessments to improve communication. Finally, the Six Sigma approach and its variation, Lean Six Sigma, aim to optimize and manage the entire organization as a whole. However, since the optimization process is impossible without coordination of actions, applying this strategy can significantly improve the cooperation of all employees.

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References

Ahmed, S., Abd Manaf, N. H., & Islam, R. (2018). Measuring Lean Six Sigma and quality performance for healthcare organizations. International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 10(3), 267–278. Web.

George, V., & Massey, L. (2020). A proactive strategy to improve staff engagement. Nurse Leader, 18(6), 532-535. Web.

Hayes, A. (2021). Six Sigma. Investopedia. Web.

Reeves, S., Pelone, F., Harrison, R., Goldman, J., & Zwarenstein, M. (2017). Interprofessional collaboration to improve professional practice and healthcare outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6). Web.

Wang, Y. Y., Wan, Q. Q., Lin, F., Zhou, W. J., & Shang, S. M. (2018). Interventions to improve communication between nurses and physicians in the intensive care unit: An integrative literature review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 5(1), 81-88. Web.

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