Speed-dating and shared decision making: Transforming how women and maternity caregivers communicate
A recent New York Times article described a new method medical schools are adopting to interview applicants. Described as “the admissions equivalent of speed dating,” the Multiple Mini Interview process is designed to identify applicants adept at communication and teamwork. Why? Because effective communication and a teamwork approach are critical ingredients of a health care system that is safer, more patient-centered, and more efficient.
Speed dating for a spot in medical or nursing school, along with other innovations in health professions education, will hopefully generate a more effective workforce in the coming years. But for maternity caregivers already in practice, what are the best resources to improve communication skills?
Two new reports should be on top of every clinician’s must-read list. Both provide practical strategies along with solid theoretical grounding for engaging in effective communication with patients.
Patient-Clinician Communication: Basic Principles and Expectations (*Note, this publication is temporarily unavailable for download as it is being considered for publication in a peer-reviewed journal) is a discussion paper prepared by the multistakeholder Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care, charged, among other tasks, with driving “the development of a learning healthcare system that is designed to generate and apply the best evidence for the collaborative health care choices of each patient and provider.” Issued by the Institute of Medicine and endorsed by over 20 health care organizations, the report offers a 7-step framework for effective health care communication and lays out basic expectations in each area:
- Mutual respect
- Harmonized goals
- A supportive environment
- Appropriate decision partners
- The right information
- Transparency and full disclosure
- Continuous learning
The report also offers practical tips and tools for assessing current communication practices and tailoring the basic principles to specific needs and circumstances.
The second resource zeroes in on a specific communication method: shared decision making. Making Shared Decision-Making a Reality: No Decision About Me, Without Me was produced by the King’s Fund and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making for the National Health Service in the U.K. With evidence and recommendations for all stakeholders, this report offers a robust section aimed at clinicians answering the question, “What does shared decision-making look like?”
The report breaks down the shared decision making process into its component parts and even includes sample phrases clinicians can incorporate into health care conversations. It also addresses practical and logistical issues such as managing time constraints, tailoring conversations to different levels of health literacy, and encouraging reticent patients to participate more actively in decision making.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned clinician, there’s always something new to learn about how to communicate in our ever-changing health care landscape. These new, important resources are just two of many. Check out our resource bibliography for more.