Following the healthcare system’s evolution, patient-centered care has become the gold standard in the medical domain. It involves establishing therapeutic relationships with clients and their families, exploring their emotions and thoughts, and understanding the patient’s medical needs. One of the fundamental skills required to achieve patient-centered care is the medical practitioners’ ability to communicate with patients. However, the organization has been long characterized by inadequate and ineffective communication. This paper aims to identify and address a problem within a healthcare organization and define how healthcare providers can facilitate and develop a roadmap for change.
Interprofessional communication among care providers is currently facing significant challenges. Health care delivery to patients has become redundant due to inadequate means of sharing information. Cases involving reports of missing patient files have also been prevalent. Other recorded issues within the institution include incomplete follow-up instructions. Furthermore, several patients have given accounts of receiving conflicting information regarding their health status and being forced to do double tests.
Poor communication among medical practitioners has also impacted their capacity to ensure continuity of care which compromises patients’ safety. The highlight of the issue was when a nurse failed to report a patient’s allergic reaction to a specific medication during handoff. This error resulted in serious patient harm, resulting in a lawsuit on the grounds of medical negligence. Communication breakdown can also lead to adverse effects on patient safety such as life-threatening complications, including patient deaths (Tiwary et al., 2019). Other effects of miscommunication include patient dissatisfaction, inefficient resource use, care discontinuity, high healthcare costs, and job dissatisfaction. Given the adverse outcomes of this issue, it is in the organization’s best interest to change the status quo to improve health outcomes.
Implementing a standard communication protocol can help the organization resolve this issue. The hospital must ensure the concise transfer of clinical information, especially during patient handoff. Shahid and Thomas (2018) theorized that miscommunication could also result from conflicting communication styles and reporting expectations among healthcare providers. Therefore, standardizing the information delivery process can help practitioners share patient-specific and comprehensive information accurately and effectively. The situation-background-assessment-recommendation (SBAR) tool has been proposed as an appropriate method for transferring complete patient data. The SBAR can significantly improve communication and reduce adverse clinical events caused by poor communication (Shahid & Thomas, 2018). It creates a shared mental model and common language for transferring patient information during the care delivery procedure.
The Appropriate Change Model for the Identified Issue
Change models provide a theoretical framework for driving and guiding change initiatives. Kotter’s change model can be applied to this problem due to its efficacy in managing systematic changes, such as communication failures within the healthcare setting. Aziz (2017) demonstrated that this model could help design a change project and nurture the proposed quality improvement initiative’s environment. The survey also revealed Kotter’s model’s efficiency in assisting a change leader to gain support from staff (Aziz, 2017). Since an organizational-wide improvement project requires collaboration from practitioners, this approach can provide guidance on how to achieve optimal employee buy-in as.
Strategy to Facilitate Change and Create Buy-in From Healthcare Professionals
Kotter’s model highlights eight steps necessary for a successful change management program. They include creating a sense of urgency, forming a coalition, developing an organizational vision, communicating the vision to staff, empowering action, incentivizing small achievements, building on the change, and making the change stick (Aziz, 2017). To create a sense of urgency, the change leader should investigate the impact of communication errors in the organization and share the findings with staff. They should strive to include people with influence in the coalition to give their change initiative credibility. The leader must use such techniques as alliance-building, logical persuasion, and appealing to values, to create buy-in from other healthcare providers. Developing the project’s vision involves conveying the manager’s future perspective; it should be clear, concise, and established in collaboration with other stakeholders. It is recommended that the leader communicates effectively with all workers regarding the planned improvement approaches.
Moreover, the leader needs to identify and address the staff’s concerns. A preliminary investigation can help them determine employees’ awareness and readiness to change. Through this approach, the manager can identify possible barriers to the initiative’s success. The change leader should leverage the support of major organizational stakeholders to receive funding to incentivize staff. This approach can motivate the workforce or modify their attitude towards the initiative. Training can also help practitioners understand the importance of adopting the proposed technology despite its side effects.
Empowering action involves initiating the planned changes; it entails changing routines, addressing the pre-identified hurdles, and ensuring that workers use the SBAR tool as the primary communication tool during daily practice. Creating short-term wins can be done by incentivizing small achievements. According to Kotter, this activity can inspire workers to attain long-term goals (Aziz, 2017). Building on the change involves improving on the positive achievements and not letting up the small wins. The last step, making change stick incorporates consolidating the improvements achieved after the implementation of the project. The change leader has to ensure a continuous reinforcement of the technology until the practice becomes part of the organizational culture.
Possible Resistance to Change
Resistance may erupt due to the additional workload associated with using the SBAR tool. Healthcare providers usually have heavy work commitments, and therefore, creating other tasks may welcome possible opposition (Grama & Todericiu, 2016). Objections to the proposed initiative may also emerge because of the potential loss of job security, poorly-aligned reward systems, fear of the unknown, and peer pressure (Jones & Van de Ven, 2016). Other possible reasons for resistance include using a faulty implementation strategy, fear of failure, organizational politics, and mistrust among workers.
The Change Road Map
The first step is to define the change’s goals and key performance indicators clearly. The leader will delineate their intended purpose, individuals impacted by the initiative, and the improvements triggered by the project. After elucidating the objectives, the manager will allocate resources (time, resources, and funds) to different elements of their strategic plan. They should also define and schedule critical milestones of the project. This step involves identifying essential tasks and their potential outcomes. The leader will later delegate responsibilities to each member of the task force. After assigning duties to every employee, the manager will identify the metrics (KPI) for evaluating the successful implementation of the plan
Importance of Effective Communication
A proper communication strategy can help the leader establish adequate means of providing and receiving two-way feedback from involved stakeholders. The leaders will identify possible barriers and dispel any fears that the major stakeholders might have regarding the proposed initiative. Furthermore, according to Aziz (2017), efficient communication can help create a culture and environment that promotes and supports the adoption of appropriate practices in an organization. It can facilitate the project manager’s capacity to convey the impacts and benefits of the proposed initiative.
Communication is integral in providing safe, patient-centered care in all health settings. Unfortunately, the organization is characterized by poor communication that has affected the quality of healthcare services. However, the institution can leverage the SBAR tool’s benefits to standardize and improve communication practices in the organization. Applying Kotter’s change model in facilitating change will help the change leader gain support from staff and provide a guide for initiating a successful change project. Proper communication approaches during the initiative’s implementation are crucial in enhancing the program’s overall success.
Aziz, A.-M. (2017). A change management approach to improving safety and preventing needle stick injuries. Journal of Infection Prevention, 18(5), 257–262. Web.
Grama, B., & Todericiu, R., (2016). Change, resistance to change and organizational cynicism. Studies in Business and Economics, 11(3), 47–54. Web.
Jones, S. L., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2016). The changing nature of change resistance: An examination of the moderating impact of time. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 52(4), 482–506. Web.
Shahid, S., & Thomas, S. (2018). Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) communication tool for handoff in health care: A narrative review. Safety in Health, 4, 1–9. Web.
Tiwary, A., Rimal, A., Paudyal, B., Sigdel, K. R., & Basnyat, B. (2019). Poor communication by health care professionals may lead to life-threatening complications: examples from two case reports. Welcome Open Research, 4, 7–9. Web.