THE IMPERATIVE OF MEDICAL COMMUNICATION
The Imperative of Medical Communication
The Imperative of Medical Communication
Development of Communication within Healthcare
Communication is a fundamental aspect of healthcare delivery since it underpins all other medical interventions. The reason is that healthcare providers use communication process to gain their patient’s compliance while patients use the process to relay their stories of illness accurately to their providers. As defined by Polack and Avtgis (2011), medical communication refers to the pragmatic technique to the daily navigation through, and all the interpersonal encounters between patients and their healthcare providers. The development of communication in the healthcare field has been studied extensively for the past forty years. A report by the Agency for Healthcare Quality Research in the year 2007 stated that most people die due to misinformation rather than diseases while in the hospitals.
Communication within healthcare has evolved over the years from the time of Hippocrates (400 B.C) where healthcare providers were urged to establish trust with the patients so that they could share their problems without fear. In those days, the main method of communication was verbal where the patient had to meet the doctor face-to-face so that he or she can share his or her problems. However, in today’s world, this has greatly changed with the advancements in technology and medicine since patients can receive their treatment through media channels such as communicating over the phone, websites, and other social media platforms. The advancements in communications have also led to the advancements in the healthcare field such as the invention of ether anesthesia.
In the healthcare field, there are two main models of communication used. These models of communication have been developed for the past 50-plus years. The first one is the AMCR or the Source Message Channel Receiver Model that was developed and improved by David Berlo in 1960. It includes elements of the person or the source that creates or encodes the message, and the receiver or the individual who receives the sent message and decodes its meaning. This communication model has been used within the healthcare field for more than 60 years and has proved to be very effective. The other model of communication which is the most recent in this field is the McCroskey Model that was developed in 1968. The model incorporates the aspects of SMCR as well as the concept of feedback and noise. According to this model, noise is a component of the communication process that occurs before or after a particular communication. Other scholars argue that noise distorts the communication process though this model asserts that it is an element of communication. Feedback, on the other hand, reflects the information that is sent in reaction to a decoded message.
The Concept of Uncertainty Management and why it is Meaningful in Healthcare
Uncertainty permeates and motivates most of the activities related to healthcare. Uncertainty exists in situations where details of a certain condition are ambiguous, unpredictable, complex, or probabilistic as well as when the information available is inconsistent. In the healthcare field, uncertainty is defined regarding the unpredictable nature of health care and the limits to human knowledge. Statistics has proved that uncertainty is one of the many forms that prompts patients to seek medical care, fuels medical research, and stimulates medical intervention. As a result, the inability to abolish uncertainty in this field promotes the perpetuation of these activities thus creating difficult challenges for patients and medical practitioners. There are four uncertainty levels that include the cultural, social, psychological, and intimate level of uncertainty.
Uncertainty management is a significant approach in the healthcare field. It refers to the process of diagnosis or prognosis of the mind of a clinician and a patient so as to help each party to cope with uncertainty. Since uncertainty cannot be remediated, health professionals and patients should be helped to manage their consciousness of ignorance. The reason is that uncertainty mainly occurs due to irreducible ignorance that cannot be remediated through filling in knowledge gaps. As stated by the new taxonomy approach, anxiety management is done through drawing attention to the locus of uncertainty that clarifies the respective roles and informational needs of patients and clinicians. For instance, uncertainty about personal and practical issues may reside entirely with the patient while the health professional remains in a condition of meta-ignorance (Martinez, 2012). In such a case, the diagnosis of uncertainty relies on the active elicitation of knowledge by the health practitioner and the communication by the patient. On the other hand, scientific uncertainty may reside entirely with the clinician where its diagnosis will depend on the communication by the professional and elicitation by the patient. In both cases, the new taxonomy proves that management of uncertainty is a relational act that involves sharing of information between the patient and the clinician so as to achieve a shared realization of uncertainty.
The concept of certainty management is meaningful in the healthcare field since uncertainty has distinct psychological effects that can reduce the quality of medical services offered. Besides, lack of information can lead to the adoption of inappropriate or ineffective treatment approaches since a clinician may not be fully aware of the disease that his or her patient is suffering from. As a result, the management of uncertainty is meaningful since it reduces the difficult challenges that clinicians and patients go through in their daily lives.
Martinez, J. M. (2012). Managing Scientific Uncertainty in Medical Decision Making: The Case of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, 37(1), 6-27.
Polack, E. P., & Avtgis, T. A. (2011). Medical communication: Defining the discipline. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt.