Listening in Healthcare

Poor Listening is a Health Risk

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  • 61% of doctors 55 and older experience at least one malpractice law suit during their career.
  • Physicians and their staff spend less and less time communicating with patients before  procedures to ensure accurate communication and understanding.
  • Physicians and their staff are trained least in the communication skill used most frequently – listening.
  • Effective listening reduces the likelihood errors and costly patient mistakes.
  • Using effective listening skills minimizes costly communication mistakes intra-operatively and post-operatively.

 Cheung K. (August 2010). Physician Lawsuits not Uncommon, AMA

Physician Benefits

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  • Reduces litigation costs
  • Improves personal relationships
  • Satisfies CEU requirements
  • Decreases insurance premiums
  • Produces a professionally trained staff with better listening skills
  • Builds strong patient and client relationships (retention)
  • Reduces the likelihood of lawsuits

The average medical practitioner conducts a minimum of 150,000 interviews during a 40-year medical career. Collecting data, responding to patient emotions, and enlisting patients as partners in a mutually agreed upon therapeutic plan requires “the ability to listen well and to elicit information from the patient accurately and efficiently.”

How Physicians Develop as Listeners

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Based on the research results from First-Year Medical Students’ Listener Preferences: A Longitudinal Study by Kittie W. Watson Ph.D., Cathy J. Lazarus M.D. and Todd Thomas Ph.D., there is a clear pattern of change in listening characteristics between matriculation and the end of the first year of medical education.  While medical students enter medical school with a significant people-oriented listener preference, by the end of the first year, the findings suggests a lack of  a listening preference, listener burnout and even listener avoidance. As physicians consider their “bedside manner,” researchers are asking:

  •  Does the stress associated with medical education encourage students to reject a more relational, people-oriented approach over time?
  • Are physician responses to patients indicative of listener burnout?
  • Do physicians try to avoid listening situations?
  • Does information and/or emotional  overload during the first year of medical school (and beyond) encourage students to use other less personal communication methods?
  • Do medical students become more isolated as they avoid interpersonal interactions?

Research findings suggest there are stressors unique to health professionals.  Listening avoidance, while not necessarily a negative characteristic, may imply resistance and/or inflexibility to listening. These behaviors,  if taken to an extreme in physician-patient relationships, damage empathy, trust and good will.

Physician and Healthcare Listening Workshops

Listen Up! for Healthcare Providers: Case Study

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R&R Homecare recognized as a member of  The 2013 HomeCare Elite™  Top providers nationwide. 

R&R Homecare gives Innolect the credit for the following results:

  • R&R’s HHCAHPS score in communication and listening score increased from 90% to 96% effectiveness.
  • R&R made significant changes to improve workplace communication resulting in improved internal communication and employee engagement.
  • Developed new employee communication skills to use internally and externally.
  • Provided forum for employees to identify and address communication issues getting in the way of client and employee satisfaction.

A few changes included:

  1. Restructured the physical layout of both offices to make the workflow and communication more efficient.
  2. Introduced central phone system to align satellite offices and to operate more effectively virtually.
  3. Introduced centralized knowledge management system to keep all employees informed and engaged.