How to Communicate Effectively with a Patient’s Family

Communicate Effectively with a Patient's Family

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There is no doubt that effective communication leads to better patient care and helps in building trust with the patient’s family. Communication is a vital part of patient care. When a patient is admitted to a hospital, his family goes through a very emotional time – especially if it is a terminally ill patient. The family will understandably have concerns and questions for the healthcare team members and would want information to be shared with them.
Most families advocate strongly for their loved ones in the hospital and so it is tricky for the healthcare team members to be considerate towards family members and their concerns while making sure they can assert their expertise successfully in healthcare communication. Sometimes walking this fine line can cause a rift between the healthcare team members and the patient’s family. However, a few tips such as follows can ensure that healthcare team members build a trusting connection with the patient’s family.

Listening with Patience

In order to communicate effectively, healthcare team members have to listen to what the patient’s family has to say with patience. It is also important to listen actively and attentively. By reflecting back the family communications, actively listening to what they are saying will make them feel heard. A healthcare team member should never interrupt when a family member is expressing his concerns and instead should try to understand what is being said in order to effectively respond to it.

Being Mindful of Body Language

Verbal communication is only half of communication. Nonverbal cues are just as important such as the body language or the tone of voice that give away a lot of information. Therefore, the healthcare team members should be aware of the nonverbal cues they are sending off. Maintaining direct eye contact with the patient’s family can make them feel that the healthcare team member is genuinely interested in what is being said. A soft but calm and firm tone of voice will convey healthcare team member’s empathy as well as confidence. The goal is for the patient’s family to feel that the healthcare team member cares and is also an expert. Brings Family, Patients and Healthcare Teams Together.

Actively Listen at the Next Level

When a family has expressed their concerns and questions, a healthcare team member can summarize what has been said and repeat it to show that he was listening actively in the first place and understands them. This is a form of effective healthcare communication that also helps to create an imprint of the information in one’s memory. The healthcare team member can also ask follow up questions to take the communication to the next level as this helps to improve patient care. It will also make the family feel that there is genuine care and interest in the healthcare team member’s side.

Following Patient's Privacy Rules

It is crucial to remember and follow privacy rules when giving away the health information of any patient. All healthcare team members must know HIPAA laws and follow privacy policies strictly. Otherwise, violation of HIPAA laws can lead to very expensive fines. First of all, patients have to consent to the release of their medical information to their family members. Healthcare team members can share medical information with only those family members who are involved when treating the patient or in the process of payment, only if the patient allows.

Honesty is the Key

No matter how worried, concerned, or emotional a patient’s family is, it is best to always be honest about the patient’s medical condition. It is easier to lie about the condition to ease the worry of their loved one but that can create a gap in understanding and expectations. It is common for healthcare team members to receive intense reactions of sadness or anger, therefore, they have to be calm at all times. It is critical to remember that their job is to provide care for the patient and also be a source of comfort and understanding for the patient’s family in difficult times.

Communication with Family Member Made Easy with

Whether a patient is in post-acute care or hospice, healthcare team members have to communicate with the patient’s loved ones and give updated information about the condition of the patient. It can be overwhelming for the healthcare team members to receive phone calls or messages on their pagers from a patient’s family asking after the patient when the healthcare team members are taking care of numerous patients and have a really hectic schedule. In such a case they not only have to spare extra time to talk to the patient’s family but also have to repeat information which can be mentally exhausting. Is HIPAA Compliant and Keeps Patient’s Family Updated in Real Time.

On the other hand, the patient’s family also goes through an emotionally charged time and stays worried wondering about their loved one in the hospital. It is natural for them to want to know what’s going on and if everything is alright.
There is a solution that tackles all of these problems through one platform: is a HIPAA compliant, person-centered text messaging application that brings together healthcare team members, patients, and family members in a digital room. When a family member is added to the patient’s “channel” in the application, they can receive live updates from the care team members about the patient’s condition. They can text back questions and concerns and receive answers any time of the day from any place.
It takes out the hassle of wondering, worrying, calling the hospital, and waiting for answers when the patient’s family member can simply receive text updates via It is also very helpful for the healthcare team members to effectively communicate with the patient’s family without taking extra time for phone calls. This leads to better patient care and family satisfaction.
For more information on how patients, families, and healthcare team members can use, check out this page.
Sources of Information myallamericancare, wolterskluwer
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