Whether you're currently working in a health management role or aspire to be in the future, communication should be at the forefront of nearly everything you do. In any health care facility, effective communication is key to keeping care teams properly informed and ensuring patients receive the highest standard of care.

Unfortunately, communication gaps and other communication issues can lead to poor overall health care efficiency and even patient safety risks. By having a better understanding of the role of health managers in communication efficiency and why communication matters in this position, you can be better prepared to serve patients and respective care teams.

Overview of Health Management

Health management or health services management refers to any management role in a hospital or health care facility where a person is responsible for overseeing other health care workers, health care processes, or patient care plans. Individual roles in health management can vary greatly, but some common examples include:

  • office managers
  • RN clinical managers
  • medical directors
  • outpatient care supervisors

People working in health management roles have important responsibilities, like developing schedules for staff and training them or managing billing and ensuring regulatory compliance. Although the exact job duties of a health manager can vary from one role to the next, the reality is that they all share the critical responsibility of communicating with physicians, nurses, and other members of care teams to ensure smoother workflows.

There are several reasons effective communication is so important in health care administration.

Reason 1: Facilitates Better Decision-Making

Effective communication in health management is essential for informed decision-making. When administrators communicate clearly and effectively, they ensure all relevant information is shared and considered. This leads to better decision-making, strategic planning, resource allocation, and policy development, ultimately benefiting patient care and operational efficiency.

Health management decision-making relies on effective communication to make informed decisions. Proper communication ensures a transparent and open information flow, critical for resource allocation strategies. This clarity in communication allows for a comprehensive understanding of various factors, including medical research and health care policies, enabling administrators to make evidence-based decisions. A well-informed approach leads to improved health care outcomes and organizational success.

Reason 2: Facilitates Effective Team Coordination

Speaking of moving parts, it's also important for administrators to understand the many different team members who work together to provide the best standard of patient care. Nurses, doctors, physicians, and other health care workers are responsible for carrying out a patient's care plan as a team—but effective team coordination simply cannot happen without strong communication.

Having a communication plan in place to keep members of a care team informed between shifts (and anytime there is a change in a patient's care plan) is critical to keeping team members on the same page and ensuring both continuity and consistency of care. Clinicians, nurses, and other team members should receive clear directives from administrators to optimize coordination at every stage of the treatment plan.

In addition to ensuring that patients receive quality care, better communication and team coordination also increases team satisfaction. When communication is strong and everyone is on the same page, it increases the quality of working relationships and overall job satisfaction. This, in turn, can improve retention. Studies have found that when communication is handled well among health care teams, there is a significant reduction in nurse turnover.

Reason 3: Streamlines Operations

Effective communication is key to streamlining operations within health care facilities. It ensures that all staff know and can efficiently follow protocols and procedures, enhancing overall operational efficiency.

This communication leads to more efficient workflows and better coordination between the administration, medical staff, and across departments like pharmacy and laboratory, enhancing patient care and resource utilization. In essence, clear communication is crucial for timely, coordinated health care delivery.

Reason 4: Enables Efficient Resource Management

Resource management is another important responsibility for professionals in health management positions. Resource management refers to a facility's strategic use of resources (including staff, equipment, and money) to deliver its services.

One important aspect of resource planning for many health managers is scheduling to ensure that all shifts are properly staffed. The ability to manage scheduling requires excellent communication skills, especially when it comes to handling time-off requests and other unique scheduling needs. With proper communication channels in place, health managers can optimize resource management and keep things running smoothly without sacrificing patient care.

Reason 5: Ensures Compliance With Regulations

All health care facilities must follow strict compliance regulations, particularly as they relate to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, HIPAA and other regulations are dynamic and can change frequently, leaving health managers with the crucial task of keeping other providers updated.

With effective communication practices in place, health care administrators can keep team members informed of changes in regulatory compliance requirements or other workplace practices so health care workers don't make mistakes. This, in turn, can improve the standard of care while saving the facility itself from fines, penalties, and other hefty consequences of compliance issues.

Reason 6: Strengthens Crisis Management

By their very nature, health care facilities must always be prepared for a crisis. Unfortunately, a lack of effective communication can lead to gaps and breakdowns in how crisis management plans are implemented.

Health care administrators play an important role in ensuring proper communication in the event of an emergency by establishing plans for relaying information to patients, family members, employees, and even government officials and news media. This may include detailed plans for communicating via websites, social media, and call centers.

Tips for Improving Communication in Health Management

There's no overstating effective communication importance in the health care field. Even the seemingly smallest of communication gaps can lead to long-term, serious consequences for patients, care teams, and facilities as a whole. With this in mind, there are some tips and best practices health managers should follow to optimize communication in their respective roles.

Perhaps above all else, health managers should focus on improving their active listening skills, taking the time not just to ask questions but to listen and engage with concerns, feedback, and ideas. It also means repeating what the patient or team member has said to ensure the message was properly received. Active listening is crucial because it cuts down on communication gaps while helping patients and providers alike feel like they are genuinely heard.

Health managers must also demonstrate a great deal of empathy in their everyday communications, including not just their interactions with patients but with care team members as well. Being able to apply empathy to everyday communication helps patients and staff members feel more valued and better understood, creating a stronger workplace culture that drives productivity while building a sense of compassion.

Finally, health managers should understand that written communication skills are just as vital as verbal communication skills. Facilities are increasingly turning to electronic medical records and other means of digital correspondence, resulting in less face-to-face interaction between administrators and care team members. Being able to communicate effectively, in this sense, requires administrators to be adept at reading and writing while understanding common health care jargon and shorthand.

Learn More, Today

More than ever, health managers must be expert communicators to promote smoother workflows, enhance team coordination, and protect the well-being of their patients. With the right communication skills in place, health managers can serve as effective leaders and perform their jobs with confidence.

Interested in entering the health management field? An online Bachelor of Science in Health Management from the University of Minnesota can prepare you for the demands of this kind of role. Or if you already have a bachelor’s degree and working in the field our Executive Master of Healthcare Administration can prepare you for leadership roles. This program is available in a unique hybrid/cohort-based model that blends online and on-campus coursework to provide you with a comprehensive learning experience.

Learn more about these programs or any of our other online programs by requesting more information today or get in touch directly.