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Patient-Provider Communications

Patient-provider communication is a significant phenomenon in the healthcare industry. One of the Healthy People 2020 goals was to improve healthcare quality and equity through health communication strategies (Gehlert et al., 2019). Park and Park (2018) also admit that effective communication can help “improve diagnostic capability, reduce frustration or stress caused by difficult patients, and increase job satisfaction” (p. 153). Consequently, the phenomenon under consideration can positively affect all the involved stakeholders.

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Patient-provider communications can lead to worsened illness outcomes. One should admit that illness is determined subjectively and can exist without a medical diagnosis (Gehlert et al., 2019). Headache and gastrointestinal distress are typical examples of illness among patients. Thus, numerous problems, including mistrust, frustration, and worsened health outcomes, can arise if healthcare professionals focus on disease while patients consider illness (Gehlert et al., 2019). Thus, there is a direct connection between illness and patient-provider communications.

Multiple factors can lead to ineffective communication, and providers’ insufficient professionalism is the first of them. According to Gehlert et al. (2019), some healthcare professionals tend to interrupt patients. The second issue refers to providers’ personal qualities since the lack of respect and empathy adversely influence communication outcomes (Kee et al., 2018). The third barrier relates to diversity issues because different socioeconomic, cultural, religious, and ethnic peculiarities can endanger effective communication.

That is why it is necessary to find practical ways of improving communications. On the one hand, changing and enhancing providers’ behavior is required, and appropriate training sessions seem suitable (Park & Park, 2018). On the other hand, specific efforts are needed to modify patient behavior to make them more involved in treatment selection and decision-making (Gehlert et al., 2019). Such a dual approach is likely to result in optimal health outcomes.

One should separately acknowledge that culture plays a significant role in patient-provider communications. It has already been mentioned that having diverse backgrounds can adversely impact communication effectiveness. Simultaneously, Gehlert et al. (2019) highlight that patients from some regions can have specific beliefs that guide their health decisions. Consequently, the failure to know these concepts decreases the probability that productive contact will be established between a patient and their provider.

A social worker can help a patient improve their communication with health professionals. The focus should be on educating patients about the importance of productive communication. This intervention can be effective since it allows for establishing contact between the involved stakeholders thus if a patient understands the necessity to involve in a productive relationship with healthcare professionals, the probability of achieving better health outcomes increases.

Ensuring confidentiality in a treatment group for individuals living with HIV/AIDS does not differ from promoting this phenomenon in other groups. Firstly, a suitable option is to encourage autonomy and fidelity within a group setting since these ethical principles can be helpful (Lasky & Riva, 2006). In particular, the former concept refers to clients’ rights to decide on whether and to whom they can reveal personal information, while the latter one stands for social workers’ loyalty to keep promises to clients. Secondly, confidentiality can be promoted by organizing low-number group sessions. The rationale behind this suggestion is that it is easier to prevent the disclosure of sensitive data if few individuals know it. Thirdly, informed consent is another way to ensure confidentiality because this contract explicitly states what information and why it is considered confidential.

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In particular, informed consent should obtain more attention since it is the leading way of ensuring confidentiality. According to Lasky and Riva (2006), this term stands for “the process by which clients learn about confidentiality and its limits” (p. 458). In addition to that, Toseland and Rivas (2017) clarify that informed consent is a written form that all group members and the social worker should sign. This document defined the confidential information and expected behavior to prevent its misuse.

It is also worth admitting that confidentiality in a group significantly differs from that in individual counseling. The most notable peculiarity is that ensuring confidentiality is more challenging when more people are involved (Lasky & Riva, 2006). In this case, a social worker should ensure that their actions do not violate confidentiality rules and that all the members understand the importance of doing the same. Thus, one can conclude that group leaders should draw more attention to protecting patients’ sensitive information.

When it comes to a breach of confidentiality, one should highlight that it can be justified under some conditions. For example, a social worker or other group members can reveal confidential information to outside persons to minimize adverse impacts (Toseland & Rivas, 2017). For example, suicide risk, child abuse, and other negative phenomena may be reported. However, appropriate measures should be taken when other confidential data is disclosed. In this case, group leaders should again remind of the signed informed consent and the necessity to follow it. If such behavior is repeated, a group member can be dismissed. In a case by Walden University (n.d.), if a healthcare professional dealing with Paula discloses sensitive data, I would dismiss him or her from the team. This step will be necessary to demonstrate that it is significant to maintain confidentiality.

References

Gehlert, S., Choi, S. K., & Freidman, D. B. (2019). Communication in health care. In S. Gehlert & T. Browne (Eds.), Handbook of health social work (3rd ed., pp. 249-271). Wiley.

Kee, J. W. Y., Khoo, H. S., Lim, I., & Koh, M. Y. H. (2018). Communication skills in patient-doctor interactions: Learning from patient complaints. Health Professions Education, 4(2), 97-106. Web.

Lasky, G. B., & Riva, M. T. (2006). Confidentiality and privileged communication in group psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 56(4), 455-476. Web.

Park, K. H., & Park, S. G. (2018). The effect of communication training using standardized patients on nonverbal behaviors in medical students. Korean Journal of Medical Education, 30(2), 153-159. Web.

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Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Pearson.

Walden University. (n.d.). Cortez multimedia: A meeting of an interdisciplinary team. Interactive Homepage [Multimedia file]. Web.

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