Communication plays a vital role in the planning, strategic and organizing of health care organizations mainly through its ability to facilitate coordination between individuals and departments. In today’s health care environment where health care management and delivery has become convoluted and fragmented, health care organizations are required to be well coordinated in order to provide quality services. Thus as a means to an end, health care managers must learn to utilize effective communication in order to fully coordinate its various services and departments.
Communication and Healthcare Organizations
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To this end, communication becomes an – if not the – important tool for the formation of plans and strategies needed by the organization to address the present healthcare environment.
It has been said that today’s healthcare structure has become fragmented and that there is something not quite right in the planning and delivery of health services. To quote Sweeney and Griffiths (2002) “research has little direct effect on health service policy, organizational change has little effect on service provision, rational priority setting frameworks remain elusive and health economists continue to develop technical solutions that have no impact at the grassroots level.” Even at the administrative level organizations are barely capable of coping from being continuously under siege – resulting in a penchant for process rather than actual outcome indicators. This leads organization managers to present “glossy corporate images that belie problems” of the organization. Part of the problem lies in the nature of healthcare organizations being different from other sectors that have instigated cultural changes. Stakeholders in healthcare organizations “have disparate schemes of values and beliefs” while “physicians’ independent perspective often differs from organizational perspectives” (Lloyd, 2008, p.1). The common scenario in healthcare organizations often involves “management not valuing communication and assuming it just happens” (Free Management Library, 2008), physicians are unprepared for leadership roles, “years of arduous clinical training do not provide physicians with the interpersonal, influencing and basic business skills needed to meet the demands placed on healthcare leaders” (Lloyd, 2008, p1), front-line personnel feel foolish and powerless and patients dump frustrations on front-line personnel – viewing front line personnel as gatekeepers keeping them from desired services (Institute of Healthcare Communication, 2008, p.1).
To solve this problem, healthcare organizations must therefore function like a well tuned machine, with each sector (i.e. externally – providers, HMOs, pharmaceuticals etc; internally – physician leaders, health managers, personnel) working as complimentary and synchronized cogs with communication serving as the lubricant that oils the system. Communication plays this role since segmented organizations such as those in the healthcare industry needs a great amount of coordination in the formation of strategies and treatment plans. Lloyd (2008) points out that the challenge lies in “today’s healthcare organizations need for physician leadership that is tightly integrated with the managers who aren’t physicians.” To this end, healthcare organizations must be viewed as areas that share indistinct boundaries characterized by diminution of information flow (Sweeney & Griffith, 2008, p.103). These “cogs,” being interdependent components of a larger system, must therefore demonstrate coordination at the reciprocal level – a...