Communication is an essential aspect of health care delivery, and the communicative relationship between healthcare providers and patients with their families is often overlooked, unlike interprofessional communication. However, as with any evidence-based initiatives in healthcare workflow or procedures, there are incurring costs for elements such as staff education, additional working time, changes in efficiency, and material expenses. This paper will evaluate the MSN project focusing on communication from a financial standpoint and offer strategies for the sustainable financial management of the initiatives.
Overview of the Problem
The MSN project seeks to investigate a clinical practice element that has an impact on healthcare delivery. The objective is to identify, research, and evaluate the issue through the use of evidence-based practice and developing a practical solution or initiative to address the problem in nursing practice. Research continuously demonstrates the value of nurse-patient communication during treatment and presents numerous barriers in practical care that prevent it. The developed PICOT question is: “In patients suffering from a disease (P), does effective communication between nurse, patient, and family (I), compared with not communication (C), allow for better results inpatient recovery (O)?” Therefore, the key problem that is to be addressed is the need to foster communication between nurses and patients as well as families in the workflow process.
Implications for Nursing Project
Gausvik et al. (2015) found that structured nursing communication, particularly within interdisciplinary teams with an emphasis on patients and families has significant benefits for improving satisfaction for both nurses and patients. Improved communication is vital to maintaining a high quality of care and a safe hospital environment. Communication helped to address patient fears and worries as well as improvements in staff efficiency. Influences on safety are most impactful (communication errors are a significant cause of death in hospitals) since a decreased rate of adverse events for patients can lead to significant cost-savings in both litigation costs as well as the decreasing length of stay and reducing easily preventable treatment costs. Meanwhile, Lotfi et al. (2019) found that professional communication between nurses and patients influences patient satisfaction with care. Data suggests that a large majority of patients are dissatisfied with care because of a lack of communication, poor connection with nurses or healthcare providers, and poor exchange of information about their treatments, leaving them in the dark about healthcare decisions and patient rights.
In the U.S. healthcare system that is market and consumer-based, patient satisfaction and experience play a significant role in the flow of finances. Dissatisfied patients may choose not to receive care at a particular facility and leave negative reviews that will drive away other potential patients. Satisfaction levels essentially drive consumer-like behavior in healthcare, with patients seeking non-emergency care likely to make choices depending on personal experiences or word-of-mouth reviews (Shryock, 2017). In the long-term, this has a direct financial impact on providers since payment models are tied to satisfaction scores, with even some government subsidies depending on the quality of care levels which include satisfaction. Positive patient experience is associated with increased profitability and negative experiences lead to a decline in profits (Richter & Muhlestein, 2017). Since nurse-patient communication is one of the most essential tools and indicators of patient satisfaction, management has a justification of incurring costs to bolster experience programs and communication improvements for nurses to generate long-term profitability along with patient outcomes and quality of care.
Financial Expenses and Strategy
Improving communication is a vital but fortunately inexpensive initiative for healthcare providers to implement, depending on the approach taken. One specific variable that impacts the financial aspect of the project is staffing. Improved nurse-patient communication means that nurses need to spend more time with patients. However, to not compromise the positive effects or patient safety, it may require an additional nurse on shift to maintain safe ratios and ensure each patient and family are getting the necessary time of care and communication. Human resources can be a significant expense, but ultimately may help address other costly issues in the organization such as ratios, workload distribution, and nurse job satisfaction/turnover as well. Another financial expense and variable to consider are promoting communication through the education of staff. While seemingly a commonsense skill, increased communications may require additional competencies from nurses such as cultural competency or addressing patients/families within situations of critical illness, which require further education for many. This may require expenses in regard to educational content development and physical materials as well as reminders for nurses to engage in the practice.
One strategy to employ is long-term investment decisions. Particularly in addressing staffing, this is a long-term investment into human resources and a decision that determines how an organization or project fares in its financial future. It helps financial management of the project by managing working capital which evaluates assets and liabilities in terms of budgets and expenditures, determining if there is a possibility to make new hires at a particular moment and whether it will be worth the return on investment. For the educational initiative, a strategy to consider is evaluation and planning. This approach provides a financial plan for the future, determining the financial effectiveness of particular initiatives or investments. The approach evaluates the financial performance of a department or team and seeing some negative elements such as poor return rates for patients because of communication struggles, may choose to invest in improving this through education.
Communication is a key aspect of nursing care that affects the quality of care, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. Both directly and indirectly, this impacts the efficiency and financial flow of healthcare organizations. Various approaches can be taken to address this, but expenses may differ significantly. It is necessary to address through financial management the monetary possibilities of the organization and plan and evaluate initiatives through competent long-term investments.
Gausvik, C., Lautar, A., Miller, L., Pallerla, H., & Schlaudecker, J. (2015). Structured nursing communication on interdisciplinary acute care teams improves perceptions of safety, efficiency, understanding of care plan and teamwork as well as job satisfaction. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 8, 33-37. Web.
Lotfi, M., Zamanzadeh, V., Valizadeh, L., & Khajehgoodari, M. (2019). Assessment of nurse-patient communication and patient satisfaction from nursing care. Nursing Open, 6(3), 1189-1196. doi: 10.1002/nop2.316
Richter, J. P., & Muhlestein, D. B. (2017). Patient experience and hospital profitability. Health Care Management Review, 42(3), 247-257. doi: 10.1097/hmr.0000000000000105
Shryock, T. (2017). The growing financial impact of patient satisfaction. Medical Economics. Web.