What is the Impact of Health Communication?

Healthcare professional talking with patients.

Health communication is one of the most important, rapidly growing sectors in communication on the horizon. Although health communicators don't directly provide patient care or diagnoses, they provide crucial support and signaling around health information, advertising, and care. Gaining a better understanding of communication in healthcare not only furthers everyone’s understanding of health literacy but also elevates patient care experience.

The crucial role of health communication

Health communicators are specialists who effectively convey health messages to a wide variety of audiences. The end goal is always to help patients and individuals achieve their desired health outcomes. For example, good communication might help an individual find a better medication, procedure, or healthcare provider to help them become healthier or more comfortable. Or it might help departments within a health-related organization (such as a hospital system, an individual department, or a pharmaceutical company) have clearer conversations.

Effective health communication should establish a level of comfort and trust with patients and clients. Not only does proper communication allow the clients to express positive feelings toward their healthcare providers but it also has crucial long-term benefits—such as reduced medical visits, financial costs, and overall, longer-lasting solutions for clients.

Building trust through clear communication

Opening up about health issues isn’t a light-hearted situation. It can often feel shameful or uncomfortable to talk to healthcare professionals about personal problems. It can feel the same as admitting you can’t handle a situation on your own— or even a perception that no one else understands your situation. This is where efficient health communication comes into play.

Efficient health communication helps put these worries to rest. Patients and individuals are more likely to disclose the most accurate information about their well-being when they are being listened to and understood without judgment. Those who can communicate with compassion and understanding will come across as trustworthy. When health communicators are able to understand as much as they can about a topic, they can convey information with more sympathy and accuracy. 

Who are you called to be?
Pursue your purpose at PLNU.

Enhancing patient experiences and health outcomes

5 Tips for Effective Communication in Health Infographic: "Emphasize Clarity," "Look for Language Resources," "Keep Legality & Safety in Mind," "Remain Curious," and "Use the Right Tone."

There have been cases where a lack of healthcare communication and work to preserve a patient’s dignity is ignored — jeopardizing not only the individual’s health but also an organization’s reputation for outstanding patient care.  

Patient care doesn’t end as soon as they step foot out the door of a healthcare organization. It follows them home and affects the choices they make on an everyday basis. The information that is related to the patient from providers has the chance to allow patients to feel confident in their health-related products and services going forward.

Tips for effective communication in health

1. Emphasize clarity

Health communicators should always use clear and precise language so nothing gets lost in translation. Being direct and upfront about medical information regardless of the potential hardship and embarrassment is the best way to help individuals reach their intended health outcomes. Poor communication can possibly lead to patients receiving unclear instructions and result in confusion or even incorrect medical advice and information. 

2. Look for language resources

It’s important to consider different languages when it comes to discussing communication roadblocks. Studies have found that language barriers within healthcare are very common when it comes to miscommunication in medical-related fields. By implementing online translation programs, one hospital found that both medical providers and patients had an improved experience when it came to the care and safety of the patient. 

3. Keep legality and safety in mind

Within health-related messaging, it’s important to remember that providing accurate and detailed information is crucial. Providing inaccurate information about an organization, product, or service can be dangerous for consumers, and can also open up the possibility for legal trouble for your organization. It’s crucial that you adequately inform yourself about the products and services you’re communicating about, as well as common mistakes within the area you’re working in — especially if you’re in a public relations or external-facing communication position.

4. Remain Curious

One consultant advised healthcare professionals to let their curiosity drive the questions in their patient consultation. Asking questions is essential to engage in any form of communication, but analyzing why a patient may be explaining their situation in one way rather than another may help providers better understand the help that they need. Within health communication, this looks like keeping up with news, emerging research, and marketing trends within health-related organizations.  

5. Use the Right Tone

The last thing you want is to feel like you’re being talked down upon. Using the right tone might be at the forefront of communication strategies in health-related positions because it can drastically change how someone responds. Choosing a tone that’s encouraging and understanding can persuade consumers to consider your solution instead of a competitor’s. Or, within an organization, it can help foster a feeling of empathy and understanding between individuals.

PLNU Health Communication & Request for Information

The fact is, everyone wants to be heard. In a health setting, it’s all the more important that people feel seen by their healthcare professionals and build trust in the people they are trusting with their well-being. To support this mission, Point Loma launched a new Health Communication program that prepares students to engage in a better world of communication—where you will gain not only health-related insight but also the communication skills needed to build trust in the lives of patients. 

Apply Now

Request Info