Beyond Primary Care Providers: A Discussion of Health Communication Roles and Challenges for Health Care Professionals and Others
When a patient receives health care she/he interacts with a multitude of individuals who collectively comprise the health care team. Although much of the current literature focuses on communication between patient and provider, other licensed professionals, staff , and even volunteers play a critical role in a patient’s experience. Families of patients also interact with the health care team, giving and receiving information and often receiving social support. Currently, a patient-centered (also referred to as client-centered or family focused) style of communication is advocated to promote optimal patient outcomes. This approach encompasses both patients and families and addresses individualized health related concerns. In general, most disciplines advocate this holistic style of health care, citing communication skills (i.e., interviewing, listening, eliciting goals) as a necessary part of health care delivery. These skills not only facilitate patient and family involvement (at their desired level of participation) but also optimize communication between members of the health care team.