Successful Communication Techniques for the Medical Office

How to Be Clear and Concise

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With planning and care, the medical office manager can increase efficiency and effectiveness through successful communication techniques and practice. Communication is one of the most important tools in any relationship, be it personal or professional. In the medical office, clear communications among the staff are essential for ensuring quality of care of the patients.

Communication Is 2-Way

In order for communication to be completed, there must be ideas or information to be shared, someone to give the information or idea, and someone who will receive the information.

Communication is best when it is reciprocal, meaning that ideas and information are shared between the two people, with each giving and taking from the exchange. When communication is one-sided, the possibility of miscommunication or misunderstanding is high, and these lead to unmet expectations and poor results.

In a relationship, most often we go back and apologize for any misunderstanding and try again. But in a medical office, miscommunication can be costly both physically and financially. Studies among the most effective leaders show that communication is the most important skill a manager or leader can possess and use.

Effective Communication in the Medical Office Setting

To communicate most effectively clear and concise information is crucial. Whether in a written communication, through an office email, one on one interaction, or in a group setting, it is important to stick to the topic at hand and not stray off the point.

Using the five W’s and an H approach of journalism will help to keep the focus on the issue:

  • Who: Who needs the information being shared? Who will this information affect? Who is or will be accountable?
  • What: What steps need to be taken? What outcome is desired? What resources are needed to complete the process or project? What are the circumstances directly affecting this matter?
  • Why: Why is this important? Why is the person receiving this information included?
  • Where: Where will the event, meeting, work take place? Where are the materials or data needed to complete the project?
  • When: When is the meeting? When is the deadline? When is feedback or progress requested?
  • How: How will success be measured? How will performance be evaluated? How will completion be certain?

Be Clear and Concise - Eliminate Chatter and Fluff

These are just a few questions that might be addressed to keep the information clear and concise. Another good rule of thumb when addressing others is: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” 

When others know that you give meaningful information and feedback, they are more likely to listen intently and regard your exchange with respect. A manager who gossips, chatters incessantly about non-business matters, or strays off topic during meetings will be less effective because their employees will begin to tune out the “fluff”. While it is important to have a working rapport with your coworkers and employees, it is equally important to have professional awareness.

Give Feedback - Active Listening

Feedback is another important part of effective communication. Listening to feedback will assist all parties in understanding. A technique called “active listening” is a helpful tool to ensure that understanding is complete. In this technique, the listener will rephrase the information they heard in their own words. If this information is correct, the exchange is complete, if not the sender of the information can correct any misunderstandings at this time. This exchange takes only a little more time and is an efficient tool for creating accountability because everyone involved in the exchange knows that expectations were clear and understood.

The Benefits of Clear Communication in the Medical Office

Clear and effective communication saves time, money, and aggravation. When all parties understand what is needed, expected, and acceptable, progress is more certain. When all parties understand why something is necessary, they feel respected. When ideas are exchanged and feedback is considered, all parties feel included and important to the process. These feelings of inclusion and importance are crucial to office morale and overall success of the practice.

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